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Eusebius of Caesarea: Praeparatio Evangelica (Preparation for the Gospel). Tr. E.H. Gifford (1903) -- Book 15



I. Preface concerning the whole argument p 788 a

II. On the philosophy of Aristotle, and his personal history. From Aristocles the Peripatetic p 791 b 

III. On the doctrines of Aristotle, who was at variance with the Hebrews and Plato concerning the final good p 793 d 

IV. Atticus the Platonist against Aristotle, as at variance with Moses and Plato; in the discourse On the end p 794 c 

V. The same against the same, as at variance with Moses and Plato; in the discourse On Providence p 798 c 

VI. The same against the same, as at variance with Moses and Plato; in the discourse denying that the world was created p 801 b

VII. The same against the same, as assuming a fifth corporeal essence, which neither Moses nor Plato recognized p 804 b 

VIII. The same against the same, as at variance with Plato also in his theories as to the heaven: matters about which Moses does not concern himself p 806 c 

IX. The same against the same, as at variance with Plato and the Hebrew Scriptures also on the subject of the immortality of the soul p 808 d

X. Plotinus, from the second Book On the immortality of the soul, against Aristotle's assertion that the soul is an ' actuality' (entele/xeia) p 811 b

XI. Porphyry on the same, from the answer to Boëthus On the soul p 812 d

XII. Against the same, as at variance with Plato in the argument Concerning the universal soul. From the same p 814 a 

XIII. Against, the same; for ridiculing the Platonic Ideas, of which the Hebrew Scriptures also have already been shown not to be ignorant p 815 a

XIV. On the Stoic philosophy, and the account of First Principles as rendered by Zeno. From the seventh Book of Aristocles On philosophy p 816 d

XV. What kind of opinion the Stoics profess concerning God, and concerning the constitution of the universe. From Arius Didymus. p817b

XVI. Porphyry, against the opinion of the Stoics concerning God, from the answer to Boëthus On the soul. p 818 c 

XVII. That true Being cannot be body, as the Stoics teach. From the first Book of Numenius On the good p 819 a 

XVIII. What the Stoics think concerning the conflagration of the universe p 820 b

XIX. What the Stoics think concerning the regeneration of the universe p 820 d

XX. What the same sect think concerning the soul p 821 c 

XXI. The disputation of Longinus against the opinion of the Stoics concerning the soul p 822 d

XXII. In answer to the Stoics, that the soul cannot possibly be corporeal From Plotinus On the soul, Book I p 824 a 

XXIII. Opinions of the physical philosophers concerning the sun; from Plutarch p 836 a

XXIV. On the magnitude of the sun p 837 a

XXV. On the figure of the sun p 837 b

XXVI. On the moon p 837 c

XXVII. On the magnitude of the moon p 837 d

XXVIII. On the figure of the moon p 838 a

XXIX. On the illumination of the moon p 838 b 

XXX. What is the substance of the planets and fixed stars p 838 d

XXXI. On the shapes of the stars p 839 c

XXXII. How the world was constituted p 839 d

XXXIII. Whether the All is one p 841 d

XXXIV. Whether the world has a soul, and is administered by Providence p 842 b

XXXV. Whether the world is imperishable p 842 d

XXXVI. From what source the world is sustained p 843 a

XXXVII. From what God first began to create the world p 843 b

XXXVIII. On the order of the world p 843 d

XXXIX. What is the cause of the cosmical obliquity p 844 b 

XL. Concerning the outside of the world, whether it is a vacuum p 844 d

XLI. Which is the right and which the left side of the world p 845 a 

XLII. Of the heaven, what is its substance p 845 b

XLIII. Of daemons and heroes p 845 c

XLIV. Of matter p 845 d

XLV. Of form p 846 a

XLVI. Of the order of the stars p 846 b

XLVII. Of the course and motion of the heavenly bodies p 846 d

XLVIII. Whence the stars derive their light p 847 b

XLIX. Of the so-called Dioscuri p 847 c

L. Of an eclipse of the sun p 847 d

LI. Of an eclipse of the moon p 848 b

LII. Of the appearance of the moon, and why it appears earthy p 848 d

LIII. Of its distances p 849 b

LIV. Of years p 849 c

LV. Of the earth p 849 d

LVI. Of the figure of the earth p 850 a

LVII. Of the position of the earth p 850 b

LVIII. Of the earth's motion p 850 c

LIX. Of the sea, how it was formed, and why it is salt p 851 a

LX. Of the parts of the soul p 851 d

LXI. Of the ruling part p 852 b

LXII. That even Socrates, the wisest of the Greeks, used to declare that those who boasted greatly of the Natural Science of the aforesaid matters were silly, as wasting time about things useless to life and incomprehensible p 853 c


I THOUGHT it important in the beginning of the Preparation for the Gospel to refute the polytheistic error of all the nations, in order to commend and excuse our separation from them, which we have made with good reason and judgement.

Therefore before all else in the first three Books, I thoroughly examined not only the fables concerning their gods which have been turned into ridicule by their own theologians and poets, but also the solemn and secret physical theories of these latter, which have been transported by their grand philosophy high up to heaven and to the various parts of the world; although their theologians themselves declared that there was no need at all to talk gravely on these matters.

We must therefore carefully observe that the oldest of their theologians were proved on the highest testimony to have no special knowledge of the history, but to rely solely on the fables. Hence naturally in all cities and villages, according to the narratives of these ancient authors, initiatory rites and mysteries of the gods corresponding to the earlier mythical tales have been handed down by tradition; so that even to the present time the marriages of their gods and their procreation of children, their lamentations and their drunkenness, the wanderings of some, the amours of others, their anger, and their different disasters and adventures of all kinds, are traditionally received in accordance with the notices recorded by the most ancient authors, in their initiatory rites, and in their hymns, and in the songs composed in honour of their gods.

But nevertheless, as a work of supererogation, I also brought out to light the refinements of these later authors themselves which they had pompously exhibited in physical explanations, and the subtleties of the sophists and philosophers. Moreover, as to the account of the renowned oracles, and the false opinion concerning fate so celebrated among the multitude, these I laid bare by evidence as clear as day in other three books following next after the first three; and for the proof against them I made use not only of my own dialectic efforts, but also especially of the sayings of the Greek philosophers themselves.

Passing on thence to the oracles of the Hebrews, I showed, in the same number of books again, by what reasonings we accepted the dogmatic theology contained in them, and the universal history taught by them and confirmed by the testimony of the Greeks themselves.

Next in order I refuted the method of the Greeks, and clearly showed how they had been helped in all things by Barbarians, and that they bring forward no serious learning of their own, making also a comparative table of the times in which the celebrated Greeks and the Hebrew prophets lived. Again in the next three books I showed the agreement of the best-esteemed philosophers of the Greeks with the opinions of the Hebrews, and again made their own utterances my witnesses.

Moreover in the book preceding this I clearly detected those Greek philosophers who differ from our opinions as being at variance not with us only but also with their own countrymen, and as having been overthrown by their own disciples. Throughout all these discussions I show to my readers that the judgement of my own mind is impartial, and by the very facts and deeds, so to say, I have brought forward my proofs, that with no want of consideration, but with well-judged and sound reasoning, we have chosen the philosophy and religion of the Hebrews, which is both ancient and true, in preference to that of the Greeks, which result was also confirmed by the comparison of the statements of the Greeks.

As we have been deferring up to the present time our final discourse hereon, which is the fifteenth Book of the treatise in hand, we will now make up what is lacking to the discussions which we have travelled through, by still further dragging into light the solemn doctrines of the fine philosophy of the Greeks, and laying bare before the eyes of all the useless learning therein. And before all things we shall show that not from ignorance of the things which they admire, but from contempt of the unprofitable study therein we have cared very little for them, and devoted our own souls to the practice of things far better.

When therefore by God's help this book shall have received the seal of truth, my work on the Preparation shall here be brought to a close; and passing on to the more complete argument of the Demonstration of the Gospel, I shall connect the commencement of my second treatise with the consideration of the remaining charge brought against us.

Now the fault alleged against us was this, that though we honoured the oracles of the Hebrews above those of our own country, we did not emulate and choose a life like that of the Jews. Against that charge I shall, with the help of God, endeavour to make answer after the completion of my present discourse. For in this way I think that the second part being connected in one bond, as it were, with the first, will unite and complete the general purpose of the whole discussion.

As to our present task, however, in the preceding Books we have seen the philosophy of Plato sometimes agreeing with the doctrines of the Hebrews, and sometimes at variance with them, wherein it has been proved to disagree even with its own favourite dogmas: while as to the doctrines of the other philosophers, the physicists, as they are called, and those of the Platonic succession, and of Xenophanes and Parmenides, moreover of Pyrrho, and those who introduce the 'suspension of judgement,' and all the rest, whose opinions have been refuted in the preceding discourse, we have seen that they stand in opposition alike to the doctrines of the Hebrews and of Plato and to the truth itself, and moreover have received their refutation by means of their own weapons.

It is time then to look down, as it were, from a raised stage upon the other vain conceit of the Aristotelian and Stoic philosophers, and also to survey all the remaining physical systems of the supercilious tribe, that we may learn the grand doctrines taught among them, and on the other hand the objections urged against them by those of their own side.

For in this way our decision to withdraw from these also will be freed from all reasonable blame, for that we have preferred the truth and piety found among those who have been regarded as Barbarians to all the wisdom of the Greeks, not in ignorance of their fine doctrines, but by a well examined and thoroughly tested judgement. . To begin with Aristotle. Other authors, and among them philosophers not otherwise undistinguished, have defamed his personal life. But for my part I cannot willingly endure even to hear the man evil spoken of by his own friends. Wherefore I shall the rather set forth the defence urged on his behalf in the works of Aristocles the Peripatetic, who in his seventh book On Philosophy writes of him as follows: 


[ARISTOCLES] 1 'FOR how is it possible that, as Epicurus says in his Epistle concerning moral habits, when a young man he squandered his patrimony, and afterwards, was forced into military service, and being unsuccessful in this had recourse to selling drugs, then, after Plato's walk had been thrown open to all, joined himself to him?

'Or how could any one accept what Timaeus of Tauromenium says in his Histories, that when advanced in years he kept the doors of an obscure surgery, or any others?

'Or who would believe what Aristoxenus the musician says in his Life of Plato? For he states that during his wandering and long absence from home certain strangers rose up against him and built a Peripatos in opposition to him. Some therefore think that he says this in reference to Aristotle, whereas Aristoxenus always speaks of Aristotle with reverence.

'One may also say with reason that the memoirs by Alexinus the Eristic are ridiculous. For he makes Alexander when a boy converse with his father Philip, and pour contempt upon Aristotle's doctrines, while approving Nicagoras, who was surnamed Hermes.

'Eubulides, also, in his book against Aristotle manifestly lies, first in bringing forward some frigid poems as written by others concerning his marriage and his intimacy with Hermias, and secondly in asserting that he offended Philip, and did not come to visit Plato when dying, and that he had corrupted his writings.

'As to the accusation of Demochares against the philosophers, why need we mention it? For he has reviled not Aristotle only, but all the rest as well. Moreover, any one glancing at the calumnies themselves would say that the man talks nonsense. For he says that there have been discovered letters of Aristotle against the Athenian state, and that he betrayed Stageira, his native city, to the Macedonians; and further, that, when Olynthus was destroyed, at the place where the booty was sold he pointed out to Philip the most wealthy of the Olynthians.

'Foolish also are the calumnies which have been brought against him by Cephisodorus, the disciple of Isocrates, saying that he was luxurious and a gourmand, and other things of this kind.

'But all are surpassed in folly .by the statements of Lycon, who says that he is himself a Pythagorean. For he affirms that Aristotle offered to his wife after death a sacrifice such as the Athenians offer to Demeter, and that he used to bathe in warm oil, and then sell it: and that when he was starting for Chalcis, the custom-house officers found in the vessel seventy-five brass plates.

'These are nearly all the chief detractors of Aristotle: of whom some lived at the same time with him, and others a little later, but all were Sophists, and Eristics, and Rhetoricians, whose very names and books are more dead than their bodies. As to those who came after them, and then repeated their statements, we may put them aside altogether, and especially those who have not even read their books, but invent for themselves, of which kind are those who say that he had three hundred dishes: for nobody could be found among his contemporaries, except Lycon, who has said any such thing about him. He, however, has said, as I mentioned before, that there were seventy-five plates found.

'But not only from the dates and from the persons who have reviled him might one infer that all the things that have been stated are false, but also from the fact that they do not all bring the same charges, but each says some things of his own: in which if there was any one word of truth, he deserved surely to have been put to death by his contemporaries not once only but ten thousand times.

'It is manifest therefore that it has happened to Aristotle, as to many others, to be envied by the Sophists of his time, both for his friendships with kings, and for his superiority in argument. But those who are right-minded must look not only to the detractors, but also to those who praise and emulate him: for these will be found much more in number and in worth.

'Now all the other stories are manifestly invented: but credit seems to be given to these two things for which some blame him; one, that he married Pythias, who was by birth the sister, and by adoption the daughter, of Hermias, to flatter him. For instance Theocritus of Chios wrote an epigram of this kind:2

"To Hermias, eunuch and Eubulus' slave, 
This empty tomb by empty sage was rais'd, 
Who left the groves of Academe, and dwelt 
By Borborus' streams, his ravenous maw to fill."

'The other charge was that Aristotle was ungrateful to Plato.

'Now among many authors who have written of Hermias and Aristotle's friendship with him, the chief is Apellicon, and any one after reading his books will soon cease to speak evil of them.

'But with regard to his marriage to Pythias he has himself made sufficient defence in his Epistles to Antipater. For after the death of Hermias he married her because of his affection for him, she being also a modest and good woman, but in misfortune by reason of the calamities which had overtaken her brother.'

Then afterwards he says:

'But after the death of Pythias, the daughter of Hermias, Aristotle married Herpyllis of Stageira, by whom a son Nicomachus was born to him. And he, it is said, was brought up as an orphan by Theophrastus, and when a very young man was killed in war.'

But enough of these extracts from the aforesaid book of Aristocles: for it is time now to consider the dogmatic philosophy of Aristotle.


WHEREAS Moses and the Hebrew prophets laid it down that the perfection of a happy life is the knowledge of the God of all the world and friendship with Him accomplished by piety, and taught that true piety is the pleasing God by every virtue (because this is the source of blessings, for all things depend on God only, and all are procured from Him for the friends of God), and whereas Plato gives definitions agreeing with these, and declares virtue to be the perfection of happiness, Aristotle took the other path, and says that no one can be happy otherwise than through bodily pleasure and abundance of outward means, without which even virtue cannot profit. How the friends of Plato opposed him and refuted the falseness of his opinion, we may learn from what follows: 3 


[ATTICUS] 'FOR whereas by the common judgement of philosophers Philosophy as a whole makes promise of human happiness, and is divided into three parts according to the distribution which makes up the universe, the Peripatetic will be seen to be so far from teaching herein any of the doctrines of Plato, that, though there are many who differ from Plato, he will himself be shown to be his strongest opponent.

'And in the first place he departed from Plato on the point of universal and chief importance by failing to keep the measure of happiness, and not admitting that for this virtue is sufficient; but having missed the power that is in virtue, he thought that it needed the goods of fortune, in order to gain happiness with their help; but if it were to be left by itself, he complained that it was a powerless thing incapable of attaining to happiness.

'Now this is not the time for showing how ignoble and mistaken was his opinion both on this and on the other points: but I think it is manifest, that whereas the object aimed at and the happiness are not equal nor identical according to Plato and according to Aristotle, but the one is ever crying aloud and proclaiming that the most righteous is the most happy man, while the other does not admit that happiness is a consequence of virtue, unless it be fortunate also in birth and beauty and other things, and so

"To war he came, decked, like a girl, with gold," 4 

according to the difference of the end the philosophy leading thereto must also be different.

'For a man who walks only on one way which naturally leads to something that is petty and low, cannot reach to greater things that are set on high.

"See'st thou where yonder hill stands up aloft 
Rugged with overhanging cliffs? There sits 
The bird that lightly mocks thy feeble threat." 5 

'Up to this lofty hill that shrewd and crafty beast is not able to ascend: but in order that the fox may come close to the eagle's brood, either they must meet with some ill luck and fall to the ground through the destruction of their own nest, or the fox herself must grow what it is not her nature to grow,

"and circle on light wings,"

and so soaring from the earth fly up to the lofty hill. But as long as each remains on his own level, there can be no communion between things of earth and the offspring of heaven.'

After other statements he adds:

'Since then this is the case, and since Plato's endeavour is to draw the souls of the youths upward to the divine, and in this manner he makes them the friends of virtue and of honour, and persuades them to despise all else, tell us, O Peripatetic, how wilt thou teach these things? How wilt thou guide the lovers of Plato to them? Where in thy sect is so lofty a height of argument as to acquire the spirit of the Aloadae and seek the path to heaven, which they thought might be made by piling up mountains, a thing which, as Plato says, is to be done by removing "the objects of human ambition." 6 

'What help then canst thou give the young men towards this end? And whence find any argument as an active ally of virtue? From what letters of Aristotle? From whom of his followers? Out of what writings? I give thee leave even to forge, if thou wilt, only let it be something spirited. But in fact thou hast neither anything to say, nor would any of the leaders of thy sect permit thee.

'At all events the treatises of Aristotle on these subjects, entitled Eudemian and Nicomachian and the Great Ethics, have a petty, and low, and vulgar idea of virtue, and no better than an ordinary and uneducated man might have, or a lad, or a woman. For the diadem, so to speak, and the kingly sceptre, which virtue received from Zeus, and holds inalienable,

"For ne'er his promise shall deceive, or fail, 
Or be recalled, if with a nod confirmed," 7 

this they dare to take away from her.

'For they do not allow her to make men happy, but set her on a level with wealth, and glory, and birth, and health, and beauty, and all the other possessions which are common to vice. For as the presence of any whatsoever of these without virtue suffices not to render the possessor happy, so without these virtue, according to the same system, is not able to give happiness to its possessor.

'Is not then the dignity of virtue dethroned and cast down? Certainly: yet they say virtue is far superior to all the other good things. Of what avail is this? For they say also that health is better than wealth: but it is a fault common to all, that apart each from other they suffice not for happiness.

'If ever therefore any one, starting from these doctrines and this sect, should teach that he who seeks all that is good for man in the soul alone is happy, they say that he never mounts the wheel, nor could he who is oppressed by "misfortunes such as Priam's" 8 possibly be happy and blessed.

'But it is not unlikely that the possessor of virtue may fall into some such misfortunes. Hereupon it follows, that happiness neither results from every condition to the possessors of virtue, nor remains always with them if it does come.

"Of leaves one generation by the wind 
Is scattered on the earth; but others soon 
The teeming forest clothe. ... 
So with our race, these nourish, those decay."  9 

Thy similitude, O poet, is still narrow and timid:

"The Spring-tide comes again."

It is a long time that intervenes, and in which nothing grows. If thou would'st give an exact similitude of the mortality and decay of the human race, compare it with Aristotle's happiness. This springs up and passes away more lightly than the leaves, not continuing through the circling year, nor within the year, nor within a month, but in the very day, the very hour, it both springs up and perishes.

'And many are the causes which destroy it, and all of them results of chance: for there are the body's "various dooms," 10 and these are myriads, and there is poverty, and disgrace, and all things of this kind; and against none of these are dear virtue's resources sufficient of themselves to give help; for she is without strength to ward off misery or to preserve happiness.

'In what way then can any one who has been reared in these doctrines and delighted with them either himself assent to the teaching of Plato, or ever confirm others in it? For it is not possible that any one starting from these principles should accept those other Herculean and divine dogmas, that virtue is a strong and noble thing, and never fails to give happiness, nor is ever deprived of it: but though poverty and disease and infamy and tortures and pitch and the cross, yea, though all the disasters of tragedy come in together like a flood, still the righteous man is happy and blessed.11

'In fact, as with the tongue of the most loud-voiced herald, he proclaims the most righteous man, just as some victorious athlete, saying that he is the happiest of all men, who reaps the fruit of happiness from righteousness itself. Distinguish then, if you will, and variously distribute good things in threefold, fourfold, or manifold order; for this is nothing to the point before us; you will never by them bring us near to Plato.

'For what, if among good things, some, as you say, are worthy of honour, as the gods; and some worthy to be praised, as the virtues; and some are powers, as riches and strength; and others are beneficial, as the healing arts? Or what, if you distribute them with less division, and say that of good things some are ends, and some are not ends, and call those ends, for the sake of which the others are taken, and not ends those which are taken for the sake of others?

'Or what, if one were taught, that some are absolutely good, and others not good for all? Or that some are goods of the soul, and others of the body, and others external? Or again, that of goods, some are powers, and others dispositions and habits, and others actions; and some ends, and some matter, and some instruments? And if one learn from thee to divide the good according to the ten categories, what are these lessons to the judgement of Plato?

'For as long as you on the one hand, either equivocally or as you please, speak of the good things of virtue, and combine with it certain other things as essential to happiness, thus robbing virtue of its sufficiency, while Plato on the other hand gets from virtue itself what is complete for happiness and seeks for the other things only as a superfluity, there can be on this point nothing common between you. You want one set of arguments, Plato's friends want others. 'For as

"Lions and men no safe alliance form, 
Nor wolves and lambs in friendly mind agree,"  12 

so between Plato and Aristotle there is no friendship in regard to the very chief and paramount doctrine of happiness. For if they have no evil thoughts one towards the other, yet it is evident that their statements concerning what is important on this point are diametrically opposite.'


AGAIN, whereas Moses and the Hebrew prophets, and Plato moreover in agreement with them on this point, have very clearly treated the doctrine of the universal providence, Aristotle stays the divine power at the moon, and marks off the remaining portions of the world from God's government: and on this ground also he is refuted by the aforesaid author, who discusses the matter as follows: 13 

'Whereas, further, the most important and essential of the things that contribute to happiness is the belief in providence, which more than aught else guides human life aright, unless at least we are to remain ignorant

"Whether by justice or by crooked wiles 
Mankind from earth may scale the lofty height," 14 

Plato makes all things connected with God, and dependent on God, for he says that "He, holding the beginning and the middle and the end of all things, passes onward in a straight course to the accomplishment of His purpose." 15  And again he says, that "He is good, and goodness can never have any jealousy of anything. And being free from jealousy, He makes all things as good as possible, bringing them out of disorder into order." 16 And while He cares for all things, and orders all as well as possible, He has taken thought for mankind also.'

And after a few words:

'Thus speaks Plato. But he who puts aside this divine nature, and cuts off the soul's hope of hereafter, and destroys reverence before superior Beings in the present life, what communion has he with Plato? Or how could he exhort men to what Plato desires, and confirm his sayings? For on the contrary he surely would appear as the helper and ally of those who wish to do injustice. For every one who is human and constrained by human desires, if he despise the gods and think they are nothing to him, inasmuch as in life he dwells far away from them, and after death exists no more, will come prepared to gratify his lusts.

'For it is not impossible to feel assurance of being undetected in wrong-doing, if indeed it be necessary to avoid detection by men: it is not necessary, however, on every occasion even to seek to avoid detection, where a man has power to overmaster those who have discovered him. So the disbelief in providence is a ready way to wrong-doing.

'For a very worthy person indeed is he, who after holding out pleasure to us as a good, and granting us security from the gods, still thinks to provide a plan to prevent wrong-doing. He acts like a physician who, having neglected to give help while the sick man was yet alive, attempts after death to devise certain contrivances for curing the dead man.

'In a similar manner to him the Peripatetic acts. For it is not so much the eagerness for the pleasure, as the disbelief that the deity cares, that encourages wrong-doing. What then, some one may say, do you put Aristotle in the same class with Epicurus?

'Why certainly, at least in relation to the point before us. For what difference does it make to us, whether you banish deity from the world and leave us no communion therewith, or shut up the gods in the world and remove them from all share in the affairs of earth? For in both cases the indifference of the gods towards men is equal, and equal also the security of wrong-doers from fear of the gods. And as to our deriving any benefit from them while they remain in heaven, in the first place this is common also to things without reason or life, and further, in this way, even according to Epicurus, men get help from the gods, 'They say, for instance, that the better emanations from them become the causes of great blessings to those who partake of them. But neither Epicurus nor Aristotle can rightly be reckoned on the side of providence. For if according to Epicurus providence disappears, although the gods according to him employ the utmost solicitude for the preservation of their own goods, so must providence disappear according to Aristotle also, even if the heavenly motions are arranged in a certain order and array.

'For we seek a providence that has an interest for us, and in such that man has no share who has admitted that neither daemons, nor heroes, nor any souls at all can live on hereafter.

'But therein Epicurus, in my judgement, seems to have acted more modestly: for as if he despaired of the gods being able to abstain from the care of mankind if they came in contact with them, he transferred them, as it were, to a foreign country, and settled them somewhere outside the world, excusing them from the charge of inhumanity by the removal, and by their separation from all things.

'But this our super-excellent discoverer of nature, and accurate judge of things divine, after putting human affairs under the very eyes of the gods yet left them uncared for and unregarded, being administered by some force of nature, and not by divine reason. Wherefore he himself cannot fairly escape that other charge which some imagine against Epicurus, that it was not according to his judgement, but through fear of men, that he allotted room in the universe to the gods, just like a spectator's place in a theatre.

'And they regard it as a proof of. the man's opinion, that he deprived the gods of their activity towards us, from which alone a just confidence in their existence was likely to be derived. For this same thing is done by Aristotle also; for by his both putting them far off and giving over the proof to sight only, an operation too feeble to judge of things at so great a distance, it may readily be thought that from shame he admits the existence of gods there.

'For as he neither left anything outside the world, nor gave his gods access to things on earth, he was compelled either to confess himself altogether an atheist, or to preserve the appearance of allowing gods to remain, by banishing his gods to some such place as that. But Epicurus, by excusing the higher powers from diligent care because of the want of communication, seems to throw a decent veil over his disbelief in the gods.'

Such are the remarks of Atticus against Aristotle's repudiation of the doctrine of providence. The same author further adds to what has been quoted the following remarks, aiming at the same philosopher's unwillingness to admit that the world was created.


WHEREAS again Moses decided that the world was created, and set up God as Maker and Creator over the universe, and whereas Plato's philosophy taught the same doctrines as Moses, Aristotle, having travelled the contrary course on this point also, is refuted by the aforesaid author writing as follows word for word:

'In the first place then Plato speculating upon the origin of the world, and considering that every one must necessarily seek after this great and very beneficial doctrine of Providence, and having reasoned out the conclusion that the uncreated has no need either of a maker or of a guardian for its well-being, in order that he might not deprive the world of providence, denied that it was uncreated.

'And we pray that we may not at this point he opposed by those of our own household, who choose to think that according to Plato also the world is uncreated. For they are bound in justice to pardon us, if in reference to Plato's opinions we believe what he himself, being a Greek, has discoursed to us Greeks in clear and distinct language.

''For God," says he, "having found the whole visible world not at rest, but moving in an irregular and disorderly manner, brought it out of disorder into order, because He thought that this was altogether better than the other." 17 And still more plainly he shows that he did not adopt creation in an enigmatic way, nor yet for need of clearness, in the discourse which he has made the Father of all hold upon this point after the creation of the universe.

"For," says he, "since ye have come into being, (and he is speaking to the gods) though ye are not altogether immortal nor indissoluble, nevertheless ye shall certainly not be dissolved, since ye have gained my will." 18

'But, as I was saying, with those who talk to us at home, as being our friends, we will discuss the matter in a friendly way and quietly with gentle arguments. For Aristotle seems to have brought them also over, as haying been unable to resist his attack upon the doctrine, and unwilling to impute to Plato what seemed to have been detected as a fallacy.

'But according to our hearing, whereas Plato claims for the world that it is the noblest work made by the noblest of Creators, and invests the Maker of all with a power by which He made the world which did not previously exist, and haying made it, will if He please preserve it ever in safety, and whereas according to him the world is in this way supposed to be created and imperishable, who among the Peripatetics gives us any confirmation of these doctrines?

'We must gently admonish their ally, that it is not absolutely necessary that whatever has been created must also perish, nor conversely that what will never perish must necessarily be uncreated. For we must neither admit that the sole cause of the imperishable is derived from its being uncreated, nor must we leave the passing of the created to destruction as admitting no remedy.

'Whence then are we to get any help on these points from the doctrines of Aristotle, a man who pursues the argument on these subjects, not indirectly, nor merely as stating his own opinion, but sets himself in direct opposition to Plato, and both brings the created under a necessity of perishing, and says that what is imperishable maintains its imperishable condition only from the fact of not having been created, nor even leaves any power in God, which He can use to do any good. For what has never existed before now, this, he says, never can come into existence.

'And so far is he from supporting Plato's doctrine by these statements, that he has ere now frightened some even of Plato's zealous disciples by what he said, and led them to reject his doctrine, because they were not able to perceive, that although, according to the nature of things alone without the will and power of God, neither the created is imperishable nor the imperishable created.

'Yet when one has established as the chief cause that which proceeds from God, one must take this as guide in all things, and show it to be a cause on no point inferior to any others. For it is ridiculous that, because a thing has come into existence, it must therefore perish, and yet not perish, if God so wills; ridiculous also that, because a thing is uncreated, it has strength to escape from perishing, and yet that the will of God is insufficient to keep any created thing from perishing.

'The builder is able to set up a house not yet existent, and a man can make a statue not previously existent, and another frames a ship out of unwrought timber and gives it over to those who want it, and all the other artificers, who pursue the constructive arts, have this power to bring some non-existent thing into existence; and shall the universal King and Chief Artificer not so much as share the power of a human artificer, but be left by us without any share in creation? Not so, if at least we be able in any small degree to form an estimate of a divine cause.

'But though competent to create and to will what is excellent, (for He is good, and the good feels no envy about anything), is He yet unable to preserve and guard what He has made? 19 Yet surely even the other artificers are competent to do both. The builder, for instance, and the shipwright not only build new ships and houses, but are able also to repair those which are wearing away from time, substituting in them other parts in place of those which have been damaged.

'So that surely so much as this must be conceded to God also. For how can He who is able to make a whole thing be unable to make it in part? So then why need it be made new, if one who is a maker in general is also to preserve his beautiful work against every accident? For to be willing to undo what was well made is the part of an evil one.

'But there is no stronger bond for the preservation of things created than the will of God. Or, while many things which shared in the zeal and will of man, as nations and cities and works, after existing an enormous time still remain when he who willed them is no more, shall the things which have had a share in God's purpose, and have been made for Him and by Him,----shall these then pass away and no longer remain while their Maker is still present?

'What cause can have done violence to the purpose of God? Can it be the necessity proceeding from the things created themselves? But this by accepting the orderly arrangement confessed itself overcome by God. But can it be some cause from without acting in antagonism to God? Yet neither does any such cause exist, nor is it right to make God inferior to any in matters in which He has before prevailed and made order, unless indeed we altogether forget that we are discoursing about the greatest and most divine power.

'But enough, for perhaps we are carried away by zeal into this argument concerning the truth. One thing is plain which we set forth, that they can be no teachers concerning the creation of the world who do not allow it any creation at all.'

Further, concerning the fifth essence in bodies introduced by Aristotle we must quote the following statements:


'For instance, with regard to the so-called elements, which are the primary constituents of bodies, Plato, like those before him, following the clear evidence concerning them, said that they were these four which are generally acknowledged, namely, fire, earth, air, and water, and that all other things are produced from their combinations and changes. But Aristotle, as it seems, hoped to appear extraordinarily wise, if he could add another body, and counted in with the four visible bodies the fifth essence: and he thus made a very brilliant and bountiful use of nature, but failed to observe that in physical inquiry one must not lay down laws, but search out nature's own facts.

'To the proof then that the primary natures of bodies are four, which is what the Platonists want, the Peripatetic would not only give no help, but would even be almost its only opponent. For instance, when we say that every body is either hot or cold, or moist or dry, or soft or hard, or light or heavy, or rare or dense, and when we find that there can be nothing else to partake of any of these conditions besides the four elements,----for if anything is hot, it is either fire or air; and if cold, either water or earth; and if dry, fire or earth; and if moist, water or air; and if soft, air or fire; and if hard, water or earth; and light and rare, as for instance, fire and air; and heavy and dense, as water and earth; ----and when from all the other simple forces we perceive that there cannot be any other body besides these, this man alone opposes us, asserting that there can be a body which partakes not of these, a body, that is, neither heavy nor light, neither soft nor hard, neither moist nor dry, almost calling it a body that is not a body. For though he has left it the name, he has taken away all the forces by means of which it naturally becomes a body.

'Either, therefore, he will withdraw us from Plato's opinion by persuading us of his own statements, or by confirming those of Plato he will himself withdraw from his own opinions. So that in no way is he of any use in regard to Plato's doctrines.

'Further, Plato will have it that all bodies, inasmuch as they are regarded as formed upon one similar kind of matter, turn and change one into another. But Aristotle claims absolutely an essence in all other things which is impassible, and imperishable, and unchangeable, lest forsooth he should seem to be the inventor of something contemptible: yet he says nothing at all extraordinary and original, but transfers Plato's fine intuitions in other matters to such as are unsuitable, just like some of the more modern sculptors.

'For they too, when they have copied the head of one statue, and the breast of another, and the waist of another, sometimes put together things which do not suit each other, and persuade themselves that they have made something original: and indeed the whole, which any one would blame as being unsymmetrical, is their own; but the contributions which are brought together in it, and have some beauty, are not theirs.

'In like manner also Aristotle hearing from Plato that there is a certain essence intelligible in itself abstractedly, and incorporeal colourless and intangible, neither coming into being, nor perishing, nor turning, nor changing, but always existing in the same conditions and manner, and hearing again at another time of the things in heaven that being divine and imperishable and impassible they are yet bodies, he combined out of both and stuck together things not at all congruous: for from the one he took the property of body, and from the others the property of impassibility, and so framed an impassible body.

'In the case then of the statues, even if the combination of the different parts was not beautiful, it was at least not impossible to be made. For instance, even Homer shows us such combinations, for he says,

                                       "In eyes and head
Like Zeus the Lord of thunder, with the girth 
Of Ares, and Poseidon's brawny chest." 20 

But the body could never be impassible: for being combined with a passible and changeable nature, it must necessarily suffer with its yokefellow. And if there were anything impassible, it must be separated and free from that which suffers; so that it would be without the matter, and when separated from that it must necessarily be acknowledged to be incorporeal.'

Further, let us give our attention to these other points in which he proves that Aristotle is at variance with Plato. 21 


'THEN these are followed by many points in which they are at variance. For the one says that the things in heaven have most of their character from fire, while the other says that the heavenly bodies have nothing to do with fire.22 And Plato says that God kindled light in the second circle from the earth in order that it might as much as possible illumine the whole heaven, such being his declaration concerning the sun.23 But the other, not willing that the sun should be fire, and knowing that light is pure fire, or something of fire, does not allow that light is kindled round the sun.

'Further, the one, attributing formal immortality to all the heavenly bodies, says that there take place certain secretions from them and equivalent accessions; and he is compelled to say this, in regard to the secretions, by the rays of the sun and the heat produced in the efflux from him; and, in regard to the accessions, by the equality in his apparent magnitude: for the bodies would not appear equal if they received nothing in place of what they emit: 'but Aristotle maintains that they continue altogether the same in substance, without either any secretion from them or any accretion.

'Further, the one, in addition to the common motion of the heavenly bodies, in which all move in the spheres to which they are confined, both the fixed stars and the planets, gives them another motion also, which indeed happens to be otherwise most admirable, and congenial to the nature of their body; for as they are spherical, naturally each would have a spherical motion of rotation: but the other deprives them of this motion also, which they perform as liviag beings, and leaves them only the motion which results from other bodies surrounding them, as if they were without life.

'Moreover he says that the appearance presented to us by the stars as if they were in motion is an affection of the feebleness and quivering, as it were, of our sight, and is not a reality: as if Plato derived his belief in their motion from this appearance, and not from the reason which teaches that as each of these is a living being, and has both soul and body, it must necessarily have its own proper motion (for every body whose motion is from without is lifeless, but that which is moved from within and of itself is animated); and when moved, as being divine, it must move with the most beautiful motion, and since motion in a circle is the most beautiful, it must move in this way.

'And the truth of the sensation would be in part confirmed by the testimony of reason; it was not, however, this sensation that caused the belief in the motion. With regard to the motion of the whole, he could not contradict Plato's assertion that it takes place in a circle, for he was overpowered by the clear evidence: yet here also this fine invention of the new body gave him room for dissent.

'For whereas Plato attributed the circular motion to the soul, inasmuch as there were four bodies and all naturally moved in a simple and straight course, fire towards the outside, and earth towards the centre, and the others towards the intervening space, Aristotle, as assigning a different motion to each different body, so also assigned the circular as a sort of bodily motion to his fifth body, easily deceiving himself in all.

'For to bodies which move in a straight line their heaviness or lightness supplied a source of motion; but the fifth body, partaking neither of heaviness nor lightness, was rather a cause of immobility, and not of motion in a circle.

'For if to bodies that move in a straight line the cause of their motion is not their shape, but the inclination of their weight, a body, not only when placed in the centre of any like body, will have no inclination in any direction, but, also, when set in a circle round any kind of body whatever, will have no cause of inclination towards anything,

"Move they to right towards the rising sun,
Or move to left," 24 

whether forward or backward.

'Further, when other bodies have been thrust out of their proper places, the rebound towards these gives them a motion again of themselves; but as that fifth body never departs from its own localities, it ought to remain at rest.

'And with regard to the other bodies, when this fifth is put out of the question, it is evident that Aristotle out of contentiousness does not agree with Plato. For Plato had inquired whether body, is heavy by nature or light by nature, and, since it was evident that these terms are used according to the relation towards up and down, he had considered whether there is by nature any up and down or not, and had exactly shown that according to the affinities of the bodies to their places, the direction towards which they severally tended would be called "down," and the other direction from which each would draw back be called "up." And "heavy" and "light" he disposed according to the same relation, and further proved that neither their centre nor their circumference is rightly called "up" or "down." But Aristotle makes objection, thinking that he must overthrow the other's doctrines on every side, and urges us to call that which tends to the centre "heavy," and that which tends to the circumference "light," and the place in the centre he calls "down," and the circumference "up." '

Thus widely do they differ from each other in regard to the world, and its constituents, and the heavenly bodies. Such are the opinions of these two. But Moses and the oracles of the Hebrews trouble themselves about none of these things; and with good reason, because it was thought that those who busied themselves about these matters gained no benefit in regard to the right conduct of life.


'Now concerning the soul what need we say? For this is evident not only to philosophers but also to nearly all ordinary persons, that Plato allows the soul to be immortal, and has written many discourses concerning this, showing in many various ways that the soul is immortal.

'Great also has been the emulation of the zealous followers of Plato's teaching in defence both of Plato and of his doctrine; for this is almost the one thing that holds his whole school together.

'For the hypothesis of his ethical doctrines was a consequence of the immortality of the soul, since it was through the divine nature of the soul that virtue was enabled to maintain its grandeur and lustre and high spirit; in nature also it was in consequence of the soul's direction that all things gained the possibility of being well ordered.

'"For soul," he says, "as a whole has the care of all soulless being, and traverses all heaven, appearing at different times in different forms." 25

Moreover, science also and wisdom have been made by Plato dependent on the immortality of the soul. 26 For all kinds of learning are recollections, and he thinks that in no other way can inquiry and learning, out of which science springs, be maintained.

'Now if the soul is not immortal, neither is recollection, and if not this, then neither learning. Whereas therefore all the doctrines of Plato are absolutely attached to and dependent on the divine nature of the soul and its immortality, he who does not admit this overthrows Plato's whole philosophy.

'Who then first attempted to oppose the proofs, and rob the soul of immortality and all its other power? Who else, I say, before Aristotle? For of the rest some allowed that it has a continued existence, and others, if not granting so much as this, yet assigned to the soul a certain power and movement and works and actions in the body.

'But the more Plato tried to magnify the importance of the soul, declaring it to be the beginning of creation, and the pupil of God, and the power presiding over all things, so much the more contentiously did Aristotle seek to destroy and to dishonour it, and prove the soul to be almost nothing.

'For he said that it was neither spirit, nor fire, nor body at all, nay, nor yet an incorporeal thing such as to be self-governed and to have motion, nor even so much as to be in the body without motion, and, so to say, soulless. For see how he ventured, or even was forced, so far as to rob the soul of its primary motions, deliberation, thought, expectation, remembrance, reasoning!

'For this secretary, as they say, of nature says that these are not movements of the soul. Surely this man may be quite trusted to have understood anything about the things outside him, who has made so great a mistake about his own soul, as not even to understand that it thinks! For it is not the soul, he says, but the man that performs each of these acts, while the soul is motionless.

'Dicaearchus therefore following him, and being able to discern the consequence, took away the whole substance of the soul. It is manifest indeed that the soul is a thing invisible and concealed, so that, through the clear evidence at least of our senses, we could not grant its existence: but though concealed, its motions seem to compel us to acknowledge that the soul is an existent thing.

'For almost every one seems to understand that the following are acts of the soul: to deliberate, to consider, and to think in any way whatever. For when we behold the body and its powers, and reflect that actions of this kind are not proper to the body, we grant the existence within us of something else which deliberates, and that this is the soul. Since from what other source came our belief concerning soul?

'If therefore any one take away these acts which are the chief evidences of the soul, and assign them to something else, he has neither left us any evidence of its existence, nor any purpose for which it would seem to be of use. What help therefore can he who would have the soul to be immortal derive from him that deals death to the soul? And what is the explanation of the manner of its motion, according to which we call it self-moved, to be obtained from those who attribute to it no motion at all?

'True; but in regard to the immortality of the mind some one may say that Aristotle agrees with Plato. For though he will not admit the whole soul to be immortal, yet he acknowledges the mind at least to be divine and imperishable. What therefore the mind is in its essence and its nature, whence it comes, and from what source it separates itself and enters into man's nature, and whither it departs again, himself alone may know; if at least he understands anything that he says about the mind, and is not avoiding the proof by wrapping up the difficulty of the matter in the obscurity of his language, and, just like the cuttle-fish, making it difficult to catch him by means of the darkness he creates. 'But even in these matters he is altogether at variance with Plato. For the one says that mind cannot subsist without a soul, while the other separates the mind from the soul. And immortality the one gives to it in partnership with the soul, as being otherwise impossible; but the other says that this survives in the mind alone when separated from the soul. And that the soul goes forth from the body he would not allow, because this thought pleased Plato: but he insisted that the mind is severed from the soul, because Plato judged such a thing as this impossible.'

These are the statements of Atticus: and I will add to them the views of Plotinus also, expressed in the following manner: 27


[PLOTINUS] 'THE manner in which "entelecheia" is used in speaking of the soul may be considered in the following way. The soul, they say, holds in the combination the place of form, in relation to the body when alive as matter: but it is the form not of every body, nor of body as such, but as physical, organic, and potentially alive.

'If therefore it is like that with which it has been compared, it is as the form of a statue to the bronze: and if the body is divided, the soul must be divided into parts with it, and if any part is cut off from the body, a portion of the soul is with the part cut off; and the supposed withdrawal of the soul in sleep does not take place, since the entelechy must be inseparable from that to which it belongs; but in reality there is no such thing as sleep.

'Moreover if there is an entelechy, there can be no opposition between reason and desires, but the whole must be affected throughout in one and the same way, without any self-discord. But sensations may possibly exist only contingently, while perceptions cannot: wherefore they themselves also introduce the mind as another soul, and suppose it immortal.

'The reasoning soul therefore must be an entelechy, if we must use this term, in some other way than this. Nor will the sensitive soul, since this also retains the impressions of the sensible objects when absent, retain them without the body's aid: otherwise, they will be in it just like forms and images: but if they were therein in this manner, it would be impossible to receive them otherwise (than with the body's aid). Therefore, it is not an entelechy as being inseparable.

'Moreover that which desires not meats or drinks, but other than bodily things, is not itself an inseparable entelechy.

'Then there would remain the vegetative principle, which would seem to admit a doubt, whether it be in this way an inseparable entelechy. Yet even this seems not to be so. For if the beginning of every plant is at the root, and the rest of the body grows round the root and the lower parts in many plants, it is evident that the soul forsakes the other parts and is collected in some one: it is not then in the whole as an inseparable entelechy. For again, before the plant grows the soul is in a little germ: if therefore it both comes from a larger plant into a small germ, and from a small germ into a whole plant, what is to hinder its being also wholly separated? And how, being also indivisible can it become a divisible entelechy of a divisible body?

'Also the same soul from one animal becomes another: how then could the soul of the former become the soul of the next, if it were the entelechy of one? And this is evident from the animals which change into other animals. The soul then has not its existence from being the "form" of anything, but is an essence, not receiving its existence in consequence of its abode in a body, but existing before it belonged to this, so that in an animal the body will not generate the soul.

'What then is its essence? And if it is neither body, nor an affection of body, but action and production and many such things are both in it and from it, being an essence in addition to its bodies, what is its nature? Must it not manifestly be what we call real essence? For all that is bodily may be said to be generation but not substance, becoming and perishing, and never really being, but preserved by participation with being, so far as it may partake thereof.'

Now since we have related the opinions of Plotinus, it will not be out of place to observe what Porphyry also has said in his books against Boëthus On the Soul. 28 


[PORPHYRY] 'IN answer to him who called the soul an entelechy, and supposed it, though utterly motionless, to be a cause of motion, we must ask what is the source of the strong excitements of the animal who understands nothing of what he sees and utters, though his soul discerns what is future and not yet present, and moves according to the same? Whence also in the constitution of the animal come the acts of the soul as of a living thing, acts of deliberation, inquiry, and will, which are movements of the soul and not of the body?'

Then presently he adds:

'To liken the soul to weight or bodily properties uniform and immovable, by which either the motion or the quality of the subject-matter is determined, was the part of a man who either willingly or unwillingly had utterly lost sight of the dignity of the soul, and had in no way discerned that by the presence of the soul the animal's body is made alive, as by the presence of fire the water placed close to it, though cold in itself, is made hot; and by the rising of the sun the air, which is dark without his shining, is made full of light.

'Yet neither was the heat of the water previously the fire nor the fire's heat; nor was the light of the atmosphere that light which is inherent in the sun: and in the same way the animation of the body, which seems like the weight or the quality in the body, is not that soul which was located in the body and through which also the body partook of a certain breath of life.'

Then afterwards he adds:

'So then all the other statements which others have made concerning the soul bring disgrace upon us. For must it not be a disgraceful doctrine which makes the soul the entelechy of the physical organic body? And is not that a shameful doctrine, which represents it as having somehow a breath or intelligent fire, kindled or quenched by the cooling, and, as it were, dipping in the air around it, and which makes it a collection of atoms, or represents it as wholly engendered of the body? '

This is what in The Laws the author represented as the impious doctrine of impious men.29 All such statements then are full of shame: but, says he, no one would be ashamed for him who calls it a self-moved substance.


[ATTICUS] 'FURTHER, when Plato says that the soul pervading all parts arranges all in order, and is that whereby the other philosophers would admit that all things are so arranged, and that nature is nothing else than soul, and evidently not an irrational soul, and when from this Plato gathers that all things take place according to providence, since they take place according to nature, in none of these opinions does Aristotle agree with us.

'For he does not admit that nature is soul, and earthly things ordered by one nature: for he says that for each several thing there are also different causes. For of the things in heaven which 'always remain in the same relations and conditions he supposes fate to be the cause: and of sublunary things, nature; and of human affairs, prudence, and forethought, and soul, showing indeed nicety in such distinctions, but not discerning the necessary truth.

'For if there were not some one animate power pervading the whole, and binding and holding all things together, the whole could not be either reasonably or beautifully arranged. It was a proof then of the same blindness, to hope that a city could ever continue in well-being without unity, and to believe that one could in argument preserve this universe in perfect beauty, such it appears, without having bound and compacted it together by participation in some one common principle.

'And something of this kind, he says, it is that arranges the several parts, such as to be a principle of motion, but he will not admit that this is soul; though Plato nevertheless shows that in all things that are moved the source and fountain of their motion is the soul. And that which would be the work of a rational and wise soul, to make nothing without a purpose, this he attributes to nature, but gives nature no share in the name of soul; as if things were derived not from powers but from names.'


'BUT the chief point and power of Plato's system, his theory of ideas, has been discredited, and abused, and insulted in every way, as far as it was in Aristotle's power. For as he was unable to conceive that things of a grand, divine, and transcendent nature require a certain kindred power for their recognition, and trusted to his own meagre and petty shrewdness, which was able to make its way through things terrestrial, and discern the truth in them, but was not capable of beholding the plain of absolute truth, he made himself the rule and judge of things above him,30 and denied the existence of any peculiar natures such as Plato affirmed, but dared to call the highest of all realities triflings and chatterings and nonsense.

'Rather is the supreme and final speculation of Plato's philosophy that which treats of this intelligible and eternal being of the ideas, wherein verily the utmost toil and stress is set before the soul. For a most happy man is he, who has shared in the effort and attained the end, while he who has failed from want of power to obtain an insight is left without any share at all of happiness.

'And for this reason Plato too strives earnestly in every way to show the strength of these ideal natures. For he says that it is not possible either rightly to assign a cause of anything whatsoever, except by participation in the ideas, or to have knowledge of any truth except by reference to these: nay not even a particle of reason would any have, unless they should acknowledge the existence of these ideas.

'They again who have decided to maintain the doctrines of Plato lay the chief stress of their arguments on this point, and quite necessarily. For nothing is left of the Platonic system, if one will not grant them on Plato's behalf these primary and i principal natures. For it is in these that he is especially superior to all other men.

'For as he conceived God in relation to these ideas as Father of all, and Creator, and Lord, and Guardian; and as from men's works he recognized that the artist formed a previous conception of that which he was about to make, and then afterwards adapted the likeness to the conception thus formed in the case of the things made; in the same way therefore Plato comprehended at a glance that God's conceptions, the patterns of the things made, are earlier than the things themselves, being incorporeal and intelligible, ever existing in the same conditions and modes, themselves the highest and first beings, and in part the causes to all the rest of their being just such as they severally are, according to their likeness to them; and seeing that they are not easy to be discerned, nor yet able to be clearly expressed in speech, Plato himself treated of these subjects as far as it was possible to represent them in speech or thought, and to prepare those who were to follow after him; and having arranged his whole philosophy to this end, he asserts that with these ideas and the perception of them are concerned the wisdom and the science, whereby the proper end of man and the life of blessedness are attained.'

So far speaks Atticus. I might have quoted yet more than this from his book which I have mentioned: let us be satisfied, however, with what has been set forth, and pass on next to the sect of the Stoics. Among the hearers then of Socrates was one Antisthenes, a man like Heracleitus in spirit, who said that madness was better than pleasure, and therefore used to advise his friends never to stretch out a finger for the sake of pleasure.

And a disciple of his was Diogenes the 'dog,' who seemed to entertain most brutelike ideas, and attracted many followers. He was succeeded by Crates, and a disciple of Crates was Zeno of Cittium, who was established as founder of the sect of the Stoic philosophers.

Zeno was succeeded by Cleanthes, and Cleanthes by Chrysippus, and he by the second Zeno, and the rest in order. All these are said to have been especially devoted both to hard living and to dialectic. The doctrines then of their philosophy are somewhat as follows.


[ARISTOCLES] 31 'THEY say, like Heracleitus, that the element of the existing world is fire, and that the original principles of fire are matter and god, as Plato says. But the former says that both principles, the active and the passive, are corporeal, while the latter says that the first active cause is incorporeal.

'Then, moreover, they say that at certain predestined and definite times the whole world is consumed by fire, and afterwards reorganized again. The primordial fire, however, is as it were just a seed, containing the reasons and the causes of all things past, present, and future: and that the combination and sequence of these constitute fate, and knowledge, and truth, and law of all being, from which there is no escape or avoidance. And in this way all things in the world are admirably arranged, just as in any well-ordered state.'


[ARIUS DIDYMUS] 'THE whole ordered world (ko&smoj) with all its parts they call god, and say that he is one alone, and finite, and living, and eternal, and god: for all bodies are contained in him, and in him there is no vacuum. For the name order (ko&smoj) is applied to the quality of all substance as well as to that which has an arrangement of like kind consequent on the ordering (diako&smhnsin).

'Wherefore according to the former rendering they say that the world is eternal, but as to its orderly arrangement created and subject to change at infinite periods past and future.

'And the quality of all being is an eternal world and god; the name world (ko&smoj) also means the system compounded of heaven, and the air, and earth, and sea, and the natures contained in them; and again the name world means the dwelling-place of gods and men, and of all things made for their sake.

'For in the same way as the name city has two meanings, the dwelling-place, and the system resulting from the combination of residents and citizens, so also the world is, as it were, a city composed of gods and men, in which the gods hold the rule, and the men are subject.

'There is, however, a community between them, because they partake of reason, which is nature's law: and for their sakes all other things have been made. From which things it follows that we must suppose that the god who administers the whole takes thought for mankind, being beneficent, and kind, and friendly to; man, and just, and possessed of all virtues.

'For this reason indeed the world is also called Zeus, since he is the cause of our life (zh~n): and inasmuch as from eternity he administers all things unchangeably by connected (ei0rome/nw|) reason, he is also called Fate (ei9marme/nhn): and Adrasteia, because nothing can escape him (a)podidra&skein) and Providence, because, he arranges things severally for good.

'Cleanthes would have the sun to be the ruling power of the world, because it is the greatest of the heavenly bodies, and contributes most to the administration of the whole by making the day and the year and the other seasons.

'Some, however, of the sect thought that the earth was the ruling power of the world. But Chrysippus thought it was the ether, the clearest and purest as being most mobile of all things, and carrying round the whole course of the world.'

Let this extract then suffice from the Epitome of Arius Didymus. But with reference to the opinion of the Stoics concerning God it is sufficient to quote the words of Porphyry in the answer which he wrote to Boëthus On the Soul, in the form following: 32


[PORPHYRY] 'THEY do not hesitate to call God an intelligent fire and allow Him to be eternal, and to say that He destroys and devours all things, being such a fire as that which is known to us, and to contradict Aristotle who deprecates saying that the ether consists of fire of this kind.

'But if they are asked how such a fire lasts so long, though they do not say that it is fire of another kind, yet after describing it as of such a nature, and claiming credence for their own assertion, they add on to this unreasonable belief that it is also an eternal fire, though they assume that even this etherial fire is partially quenched and rekindled. But why should one spend time in pursuing any further their blindness in regard to their own doctrines, and their indolence and contempt for the doctrines of the ancients?'


[NUMENIUS] 33  'BUT what then is "being "? Is it these four elements, earth and fire and the other two intermediate natures? Are then these the real beings, either collectively, or any one of them singly? But how can they be, since they are both created and destroyed again, for we may see them proceeding one out of another, and interchanging, and subsisting neither as elements nor as compounds? These cannot thus be a body with true being.

'But though not these, yet it is possible that matter may have true being? But for matter also this is utterly impossible, through want of power to continue. For matter is a running and swiftly changing stream, in depth, and breadth, and length undefined and endless.'

And presently he adds:

'So it is well stated in the argument that, if matter is infinite, it is undefined; and, if undefined, irrational; and, if irrational, it cannot be known. But as it cannot be known it must necessarily be without order, as things arranged in order must certainly be easy to be known: and what is without order, is not stable: and whatever is not stable cannot have true being.

'Now this was the very point on which we agreed among ourselves before, that it is not permissible for all these things to be associated with true being. I should wish this to be the opinion of all men, be it at all events mine. I deny, therefore, that either matter in itself, or material bodies are true being.

'What then? Have we any thing else besides these elements in the nature of the universe? Yes, certainly. And this is not at all a subtle thing to express, if we would together try to discuss the following point first in the case of ourselves.

'For since bodies are in their own nature inanimate and dead, carried hither and thither, and not abiding in one stay, have they not need of something to hold them together? Most certainly. And if they should fail to find this, would they continue? Certainly not. What is there then to hold them? If on the one hand this also were a body, I think that being liable to be dissolved and dispersed it would need a Zeus Soter to sustain it. If, however, it must be freed from what bodies suffer, in order that after they have been generated it may be able to avert their destruction, and hold them together, to me it seems that there is nothing else left, except only the incorporeal. For of all natures this alone is stable, and compact, and not at all corporeal. At all events it is neither created, nor increased, nor subject to any other kind of motion, and for these reasons the incorporeal was rightly judged worthy to take precedence.'


[ARIUS DIDYMUS] 'But the oldest of this sect are of opinion that all things are changed into ether, when at certain very long periods all are resolved into an ethereal fire.'

And afterwards he adds:

'But from this it is manifest that Chrysippus has not accepted this confusion in reference to substance (for that was impossible), but only that which was meant as equivalent to change. For the term destruction is not properly understood of the great destruction of the world which takes place in long periods by those who hold the doctrine of the dissolution of the universe into fire, which they call conflagration, but they use the term destruction (fqora&n) as equivalent to change in the course of nature.

'For it is held by the Stoic philosophers that the universal substance changes into fire, as into a seed, and coming back again, from this completes its organization, such as it was before. And this is the doctrine which was accepted by the first and oldest leaders of the sect, Zeno, and Cleanthes, and Chrysippus. For the Zeno who was the disciple and successor of Chrysippus in the School is said to have doubted about the conflagration of the universe.'


'THE common reason having advanced so far, and a common nature having become greater and fuller, and having at last dried up all things and absorbed them into itself, finds itself in the universal substance, having gone back to the condition first mentioned, and to that resurrection which makes the Great Year, in which takes place the restitution from itself alone to itself again.

'And when it has returned, because of an arrangement such as that from which it began to make a similar organization, it according to reason follows the same course again, so that such periods go on from eternity and never cease. For it is not possible for all things to have a cause of their beginning, nor of that which administers them. For under things created there must lie a substance of a nature to receive all the changes, and the power that out of it created them. For as there is in our case a certain kind of creative nature, there must of necessity be something of the same kind in the world also, something uncreated, for there cannot be a beginning of creation in the case of this nature: and in the same way as it is uncreated, it is also impossible for it to be destroyed, either by itself, or by anything external that would destroy it.


'THE seed, says Zeno, which man emits is breath combined with moisture, a portion and fragment of soul, and a blending of the parents' seed, and a concrete mixture of the various parts of the soul. For this, having the same laws as the universe, when emitted into the womb is caught up by another breath, and made a portion of the female's soul and grows into one with it, and being there stirred and kindled by it grows in secret, continually receiving additions to the moisture and increasing of itself.'

And a little further on he adds:

'With regard to the soul, Cleanthes, in setting forth the doctrines of Zeno for comparison with the other physicists, says that Zeno calls the soul an exhalation endowed with sensation, just as Heracleitus does. For wishing to make it clear that there is a perpetual production of intelligent souls by exhalation, he compared them to rivers, speaking as follows: "Though men step into the same rivers, the waters that from time to time flow over them are different": and souls likewise are exhaled from moisture.

'So then Zeno, like Heracleitus, represents the soul as an exhalation. And he says that it is sensitive for the reason that the ruling part is capable of being impressed through the senses from real and substantial objects, and receiving their impressions. For these are special properties of soul.'

After other remarks he adds:

'And they say that there is a soul in the universe, which they call ether, and air surrounding the laud and sea, and exhalations from them; and that to this soul are attached all the other souls, both those in animals, and those in the surrounding air; for the souls of the dead still continue.

'Some say that the soul of the universe is eternal, but that the others at death are absorbed into union with it: and that every soul has in it a certain ruling faculty, which is life, and sensation, and appetite.'

And a little further on he proceeds:

'They say that the soul is created and perishable, but does not perish immediately when freed from the body, but abides for some time by itself; the soul of the good until the resolution of all things into fire, but the soul of the foolish for certain periods of time.

'But the continued existence of souls they thus describe, that we ourselves on becoming souls continue to exist, having been separated from the body and changed into the smaller substance of the soul. But the souls of the foolish and of irrational animals perish together with their bodies.'

Such are the doctrines of the Stoic philosophy collected out of the Epitomae of Arius Didymus. But in answer to their absurd opinion about the soul, it is sufficient to quote the refutations briefly stated in the following words in Longinus, one of our own age: 34 


[LONGINUS] 'To speak briefly, it seems to me that all who represented the soul as a body have strayed, one after another, far away from right reasoning. For how is it at all admissible to assume that what is proper to the soul is similar to any of the elements? Or how refer it to the compounds and mixtures, which occurring in many ways are of a nature to generate forms of countless other bodies, in which, if not continuously, at all events at intervals one may see the cause of the elements, and the advance of the primary elements towards the secondary and tertiary compounds? But of properties pertaining to the soul not a trace nor a sign is found in bodies, not even if one should strive, like Epicurus and Chrysippus, to turn every stone, and examine every power of body for an origin of the functions of the soul.

'For what help would the subtilty of the breath give us for sensible presentations and reasonings? Or why has the shape of the atoms so great power above all else and such facility of change, as to beget wisdom, whenever it is mixed up in the moulding of another body? I think indeed that not even if one chanced to be one of Hephaestus' tripods and handmaidens, of whom the former, Homer says, went self-moved to the assembly,35 and the latter helped their master in his work, and lacked none of the advantages which living beings possess, much less those of the fortuitous motes, . . . and on the other hand it is like the stones upon the sea-shore, in regard to being able to do anything remarkable towards producing sensation. For one might justly be indignant with Zeno and Cleanthes for arguing so very contemptuously about the soul, and saying both alike that the soul is an exhalation of the solid body. For what, in heaven's name, is there at all in common between an exhalation and a soul? And how is it possible for them, if they think that both our nature and that of other animals is like this, to be able to preserve either sensible presentations and remembrances permanently, or, on the other hand, instincts and desires of things conducive to understanding? Shall we then indeed degrade the gods also, and Him who pervades all things alike in earth and heaven, into an exhalation, and smoke, and such nonsense as this? And shall we not feel ashamed even towards the poets, who although they have not an exact understanding of the gods, nevertheless partly from the common conception of mankind, and partly from inspiration of the Muses, which is of a nature to stir them hereto, have spoken more honourably concerning them, and not called them exhalations, or airs, or breaths, and such nonsense?'

This is what Longinus tells you. But listen to Plotinus also, aiming against the same sect such remarks as follow: 36


[PLOTINUS] 'Now whether each of us is immortal, or wholly perishes, or whether parts of him will pass into dissolution and destruction, while parts remain for ever, which are the man himself, this one may learn as follows, by examining it in the natural way.

'In the first place, man cannot be a simple thing, but he has in him a soul, and has also a body whether as our instrument, or as attached to us in any other way; at all events let them be thus distinguished, and let us examine closely the nature and essence of each.

'The body then, being itself compound, cannot, from the reason of the thing, be permanent; and our senses perceive it dissolving, and wasting, and suffering all kinds of decay, while each of the parts in it follows its own course, and one wastes another away, and changes into another, and destroys it; and this especially when the soul, which harmonizes them, is not present with the atoms.

'And even if each be isolated in coming into existence, it is not one, since it admits of separation into form and matter, of which even simple bodies must be constituted; moreover having also magnitude, inasmuch as they are bodies, and can be divided and broken into small fragments, in this way also they would be liable to destruction.

'So if this is part of ourselves, we are not altogether immortal: but if it is an instrument, it must be of the nature described, as having been given only for a certain time. But the dominant part, even the man himself, would be either like the form in relation to the body as matter, or like the agent in relation to an instrument. And in either way the soul is the self.

'Of what nature then is this? Either it is body, and must certainly be soluble, for every body is compound. Or if it were not body, but of some other nature, this also we must examine either in the same way or some other. And first we must consider into what this body, which they say is soul, must be resolved.

'For since life is an inseparable property of soul, this body which is the soul, if it consisted of two or more bodies, must either in each of the two or in every one have life innate, or one must have it and the other not, or neither have it. If then the life were attached to one of them only, this itself would be soul.

'What then would a body be, which derived life from itself? For fire, and air, and water, and earth, are without life from. themselves: and to whichever of these soul is attached, the life which this one enjoys is adventitious. But besides these there are no other bodies. And by those who think that there are elements different from these, they were not said to be souls but bodies, and not to have life. But if, though none of them has life, the assemblage of them is said to have produced life, this is absurd.

'If, however, each has life, even one is sufficient: but rather it is impossible that a collection of bodies should produce life, and things unintelligent beget intelligence. Moreover they will not assert that these are produced by any and every mode of combination. There must then be the power that is to arrange, and the cause of the combination: so that this would hold the place of a soul.

'For there would not be even a simple body, to say nothing of a composite body, in the world of being, if there were not a soul in the universe; since it is the accession of reason to matter that makes body, and reason can come from no other source than soul.; 'If any one should deny this, and say that a soul is made by a concurrence of atoms or indivisibles, he would be refuted by its oneness and community of feeling, and by analogy, since there can be no unity that does not extend throughout the whole, nor can a common feeling come from bodies which are without feeling and incapable of union; but the soul is conscious of feeling; also from things which have no parts there can come neither body nor magnitude.

'Moreover supposing the body to be simple, if they say that all that is material has no life of itself (for matter has no qualities), but that what is classed as the form (ei]doj) adds the life----then, if they say that this form is the essence, only the one of these and not the union of both will be the soul; and on the other hand, there is no body, for even this is not produced from mere matter, or else we must resolve it again in the same manner.

'But if they say that the form is an affection of the matter, but not the essence, they will have to state the source from which this affection and the life have come into the matter. For certainly the matter does not give itself form, nor infuse into itself a soul. There must, then, be something which provides life, whether it be provided for the matter or for any of the bodies, and this must be outside and beyond any bodily nature. Since otherwise there would not even be any body, as there would be no animal force.

'For its own nature is in flux and motion, and if all were bodies they would perish very speedily, even though the name soul should be given to one of them: for it would be affected in the same way as the other bodies, they all having the same matter. Or rather nothing would ever come into being, but all things would remain as matter, if there were nothing to give it form.

'But perhaps even matter would not exist at all, but this universe would be dissolved, if any one should entrust it to a combination of body, giving it in mere name the rank of soul, though it is only air and breath that is most easily dispersed, and has no unity of itself. For since all bodies are capable of division, how can any one who makes this universe depend on any of them, fail to make it unintelligent and moved at random?

'For what order, or reason, or mind can there be in breath which needs a soul to give it order? But granted the existence of a soul, all these are subservient to it for the constitution of a world and of every living thing, a different power from each contributing to the whole: whereas if there be no soul present in the universals, they will not merely be without order, but will be nothing at all.

'These men are also themselves led by the truth to testify that there must be something prior to bodies and superior to them, a species of soul, since they suppose that breath is endowed with mind and that fire is intelligent, as without fire and breath the better part cannot exist in the actual world, but seeks a place where it may be settled; whereas they ought to be seeking where to settle the bodies, as it seems these must be settled in powers of the soul.

'But if they assume that life and soul are nothing besides breath, what becomes of their much boasted phrase "in a certain state," in which they take refuge when compelled to assume some active nature besides bodies? If then they say that not every breath is soul, because countless breaths are inanimate, but the breath that is "in a certain state," they must say that this "certain state," and this condition, is either something real or nothing.

'But if they say it is nothing, there will be breath only, and the "certain state" a mere name: and so it will result in their saying that nothing else exists but matter, and that soul, and god, and all things are a mere name, and that matter alone exists. But if the "state" is something real and additional to the substratum and the matter, existing in matter but itself immaterial because it is not compounded again out of matter, it must be not body, but a kind of reason, and a different nature.

'Moreover from the following considerations it is not less evidently impossible that the soul should be a body of any kind whatever. For then it must be either hot or cold, either hard or soft, and liquid or solid, and black or white, with all other bodily qualities differing in different bodies. And if it is hot, it will only give heat, if cold it will only chill, and the additional presence of lightness will make things light, and of heaviness heavy, and blackness will make black, and whiteness white.

'For it is no property of fire to chill, nor of cold to make hot. But the soul both produces different effects in different animals, and also contrary effects in the same animal; making some parts solid and others liquid, and some thick and others thin, black and white, light and heavy. Yet it ought to have produced only one effect according to the quality of the body in colour and other respects: but in fact it produces many.

'And how then will they explain the fact that the motions are diverse instead of one, since every body has one motion only? If they allege choice as cause of some motions, natural laws of others, so far they are right: but choice is not a property of body, nor laws, at least if they are different, while the body is one and simple, and has no participation in any such law, except what has been given to it by that which caused it to be hot or cold.

'Also the power of causing growth in periods of time and up to this or that measurer----whence can the body itself get this? For it is natural to it to be increased, but to have no power in itself of causing increase, except in as far as it may be taken into service as a mass of matter by the power which by means of it effects the increase. Even if the soul were a body and caused increase, it must also be itself increased by an addition evidently of similar body, if it is to advance equally with that which receives increase from it. And the addition will either be soul, or soulless body.

'And if soul, how and whence does it come in, and how is it added? But if the addition is soulless, how is it to become animated, and to agree with what was there before, and be one with it, and share the same opinions with the first soul? Will not rather this soul, as a stranger, be in ignorance of what the other knows; and just as with the other mass of our body, one part will pass away from it, and another be added, and nothing will be the same?

'How then are our remembrances formed? And how our knowledge of our own selves, if we have never the same soul? Moreover if it is body, and the nature of body is that, when divided into several parts, each of the parts is not the same as the whole, and if a soul is of a certain size, then whatever is less than that will not be soul, just as everything of a certain size by any subtraction changes from being what it was.

'But if anything possessing magnitude should remain the same in quality when diminished in bulk, it is altered as body and as quantity, but may retain its sameness in quality as being different from quantity.

'What then will they say, who assert that the soul is body?

'First as to each part of the soul that is in the same body, is each a soul such as the whole is?

'And so again the part of each part? Magnitude then contributed nothing to its essence; yet it ought to have done so, as there was, a certain fixed quantity; and it was whole in many different places, which cannot be the case with body, that the same should be whole in many places, and the part be the same as the whole.

'But if they say that each of the parts is not a soul, they will have a soul consisting of soulless parts. And further still, if the magnitude of each soul be limited in each direction, then if it become either less or greater it will not be a soul.

'Whenever therefore from one connexion and the same seed twin children are begotten, or even many, as in the case of the other animals, the seed being parted into several places, where each is a whole, does not this teach those who are willing to learn, that where the part is the same as the whole, this whole in its own essence transcends the quantitative existence, and must itself be without quantity? For thus it will remain the same when quantity is withdrawn, inasmuch as it is independent of quantity and bulk, as its essence is something different therefrom. The soul therefore and its laws are independent of quantity.

'But that, if the soul were body, there would be neither sensation nor thought, nor knowledge, nor virtues, nor anything noble, is evident from the following reasons. Whatever is to perceive anything by sensation must itself be one, and must apprehend everything by the same sentient power; even if there should be many impressions that enter through many organs of sensation, or many qualities of one thing, and even if through one sense there should enter a complex object, such as a face.

'For there are not different powers that perceive the nostril and the eye, but the same perceives all at once. And if one impression comes through the eyes, and another through hearing, there must be some one power which both reach: or how could one say that these are different, if the sensations did not reach the same sentient power at the same time? This, therefore, must be as it were a centre, and lines converging from the circumference of the circle must convey the sensations from all sides to it, and the percipient power of this kind must be really and truly one.

'For if this were to be extended, and the sensations were to strike upon both extremities, as it were, of a line, either they must run together again to one and the same point, as the centre, or to some other: and each different point will have a sensation of one of the two objects, just as if I were to perceive one object and you another.

'And if the sensible object be one, as a face, it will be contracted into one, as is evidently the case; for contraction takes place in the very pupils of the eyes (otherwise how could very large objects be seen through them?): so that there is a still further contraction in passing on to the ruling faculty, in such a way that indivisible notions are produced. And this faculty will be indivisible, or, if it were a magnitude, the perceptions would share its divisibility, so that one part (of the soul) would perceive one part (of the object), and another another, and nothing in us would perceive the sensible object as a whole.

'But in fact the whole sentient is one: for how could it be divided? For there can be no correspondence of equal to equal, because the ruling faculty cannot be equal to each and every sensible object. Into how many parts then shall the division be made? Or shall it be divided into as many parts as the number of varieties in the object of sense that enters? And so then each of those parts of the soul will also perceive by its subdivisions, or the parts of the subdivisions will have no perception; but that is impossible. And if any part perceive all the object, since magnitude by its nature is infinitely divisible, the result will be that each man will also have infinite sensations for each sensible object, infinite images, as it were, of the same thing in our ruling faculty.

'Moreover if the sentient be body, the sensation cannot take place otherwise than as seals impressed on wax from signet-rings, whether the sensations be impressed upon the blood or upon the breath. If then the impressions are made as in liquid bodies, which is probable, they will become confused, just as if made on water, and there will be no remembrance of them.

'But if the impressions remain, either it is impossible for others to be imprinted while the former occupy the place, so that there will be no other sensations: or if others are made, the former will be obliterated, so that the remembrance will come to nothing. But if it is possible to remember, and to receive sensations one upon another, without hindrance from the earlier, it is impossible for the soul to be body.

'And the same may also be seen from the sensation of pain. When a man is said to have a pain in his finger, the pain of course is about the finger, but the sensation of the pain, they must evidently admit, arises in the ruling faculty. While the suffering part therefore is different, the ruling faculty perceives the (animal) spirit, and the whole soul shares the same feeling.

'How then does this result? By transmission, they will say, the animal spirit about the finger having first suffered, and imparted the suffering to the next, and this to another, until it arrived at the ruling faculty.

'Necessarily, therefore, if the first had a sensation of pain, there must be another sensation for the second, if the sensation came by way of transmission, and another also for the third, and the sensation of one single pain must become many and infinite, and afterwards the ruling faculty must perceive all these sensations and its own in addition to them.

'But the truth is, that each of them is not a sensation of the pain in the finger, but that which is next to the finger is a feeling that the wrist is in pain, and the third is a feeling that another part farther up is in pain, and so there are many pains: and the ruling faculty does not perceive the pain in the finger, but the pain close to itself, and knows only this, and dismisses the others, not understanding that it is the finger which is in pain.

'If, therefore, it is not possible for the sensation of such a pain to be produced by transmission, nor possible that in the body as being a mass, when one part suffers, another part should be noticed (for in every magnitude one part and another part are different), we must suppose the sentient power to be of such a nature as to be everywhere identical with itself. But to effect this is the property of a different kind of being from body.

'That it would not be possible even to think, if the soul were any kind of body, is to be shown from the following reasons. For if the meaning of sensation is, that the soul apprehends the objects of sense by making use of body, it cannot be that thought also means perception by means of body, or else it will be the same as sensation.

'If, therefore, thought is apprehension without the aid of body, much rather must the thinking faculty not be body, since sensation is of sensibles, but thought of intelligibles. But if they will not admit this, at all events there must be both thoughts of some intelligibles, and apprehensions of things without magnitude.

'How, then, if it be magnitude will it conceive in thought that which is not magnitude, or by that which is divisible conceive that which is not divisible? Will it be by some indivisible part of itself? But if so, the thinking faculty will not be body. For there is certainly no need of the whole in order to touch; for any one part is sufficient.

'If, therefore, they should admit, as is true, that the first notions are those of the things which are most entirely free from body, that is of absolutes, the intelligent faculty can form notions only as being or becoming free from body. But if they should say that the notions are of forms embodied in matter, yet they are only formed by abstraction from the bodies, the mind making the abstraction.

'For certainly the abstraction of circle, and triangle, and line, and point has nothing to do with flesh, or matter at all. In such an operation, therefore, we must separate the soul itself also from body: it must not therefore itself be body. I suppose too that beauty and justice are things without magnitude, and therefore the conception of them also. So that as they occur the soul will receive them with its indivisible faculty, and they will abide in it as indivisibles.

'Also if the soul be corporeal how can prudence, justice, fortitude, and other virtues belong to it? For then temperance, or justice, or fortitude must be some kind of breath, or of blood; unless perhaps fortitude were the uneasiness of the breath, and temperance its right temperature, and beauty a certain elegance in forms, because of which, when we see them, we call men goodly and beautiful in body.

'To be strong and beautiful in form might indeed be suitable to breath; but what does breath want of prudence? Nay; but, on the contrary, it wants to find enjoyment in embraces and caresses, wherein it will either be warmed, or will desire a moderate coolness, or attach itself to things soft, and tender, and smooth. But for assigning to each thing its due worth, what would it care?

'And is it because they are eternal that the soul fastens upon the conceptions of virtue, and the other objects of the intellect, or does virtue begin to exist in one, and must it perish again? But then who creates it, and whence? For thus there would again remain that former question. It must be, then, because they are eternal and abiding, such as are the conceptions of geometry: and, if eternal and abiding, not corporeal. Therefore also the soul in which they are to exist must be of this same nature; it must not then be corporeal; for everything of the nature of body is non-abiding and transient.

'If, from seeing the operations of bodies, in imparting heat and cold, and thrusting, and weighing down, they put the soul in this class, as if seating it in a place of activity,----then in the first place they are ignorant that even these bodies work these effects by means of the incorporeal powers contained in them, and then that these are not the powers which we claim as belonging to the soul; but the powers of thought, sensation, reasoning, desiring, managing wisely and well, all require another kind of essence.

'So by transferring the powers of the incorporeal to the corporeal, they leave none for the former. And that bodies can only produce their effects by means of incorporeal powers is evident from the following reasons. For it will be admitted that quality is one thing and quantity another, and that every body has quantity, and yet not every body has quality, as for example mere matter. But if they admit this, they must admit that quality, being different from quantity, is different from body.

'For if it have not quantity, how can it be body, since every body has quantity? Moreover, as was said somewhere above, if every body on being divided, and every mass, ceases to be what it was, but when the body is cut small the same quality remains entire in every part,----if for example, the sweetness of honey is none the less sweetness in every drop,----sweetness cannot be a body. The same is true of all the other qualities.

'Then further, if the powers were bodies, the strong powers must necessarily be great masses, and those which can effect but little, small masses. But if when the masses are great the powers are small, and a few very small masses have the greatest powers, their efficacy must be attributed to something else than magnitude, therefore to something without magnitude. 'The fact too that matter, being as they say body, is itself the same, but produces different effects when it has qualities added to it,----does not this make it evident that the things added are actually rational powers and incorporeal? And let them not reply that, when breath or blood has departed, the animals die. For it is impossible to exist without many other things besides these, and yet the soul can be none of them. Moreover neither breath nor blood extends through all parts, but soul does.

'Further, if the soul being body had pervaded every part, it would also have been mixed, in the same way as the mixture takes place in all other bodies. But if the mixture of the bodies leaves none of the components in actual existence, neither will the soul retain an actual existence in the bodies, but only potential, having lost its existence as soul. Just as if sweet and bitter be mingled, the sweet no longer exists. And so we have no soul.

'And the fact that, being body, it is mingled with body, the whole throughout the whole, so that wherever either may be there the other is also, both having a mass equal to the whole, and that no increase has taken place by the addition of the other,----this will leave nothing that it does not divide. For the mixture is not made in large portions alternately (for so they say it would be a juxta-position), but having passed through the whole, the addition being superimposed upon the less (a thing impossible, that the less should be found equal to the greater)----but nevertheless having so passed through, it divides the whole in every part.

'Therefore if this occurs at any point whatever, and there be no body between, which has not been cut, the body must have been divided into points, which is impossible; and if the division be carried on to infinity (for whatever particle of body you take, it may be divided), the infinities will have not only a potential but an actual existence. Therefore it is not possible that body should wholly pervade the whole: but the soul does pervade the whole: therefore it is incorporeal.

'As to their saying that the same breath is an earlier nature, and when it has come into a cool place (yuxrw~|) and been sharpened, it becomes soul (yuxh&), being made finer in the cool, ----this certainly is absurd; for many animals are born in warm places, and have a soul that has not been cooled. But at all events they say that there is an earlier nature of the soul produced by external contingencies. The result, therefore, is that they make the inferior first, and before this another still less, which they call habit (e3cij). And the mind comes last, as produced of course from the soul; or if mind is before all things, they ought to make soul next, then vegetative nature; and the later always the worse, if it is a merely natural product.

'If, therefore, even God in respect of His mind is regarded by them as later, and as generated, His intelligence also being adscititious, it would be possible that neither soul, nor mind, nor God should exist. For if the potential could exist without the previous existence of the actual, and of mind, it would never attain to actuality. For what would there be to bring it on, if there exist not besides itself something prior? But if it is to bring itself into actuality (which is absurd), yet at least in so bringing itself forward it must have something to look to, which must exist not potentially but actually.

'And yet if the potential is to have the power of always remaining the same, it will of itself have attained to actuality, and this latter will be better than that which has only potentiality, as being a state desired by it. The better therefore will be the prior, both as having a different nature from body, and as always actually existent: mind, therefore, and soul are prior to mere nature; soul, therefore, does not exist as breath, nor yet as body. However, though other arguments might be stated, and have been stated by others, showing that it is not body, yet even what I have now said is sufficient.

'But since it is of a different nature, we must inquire what this nature is. Is it then, though different from body, yet something belonging to body, as it were a harmony? For although the Pythagoreans used this word "harmony" in a different way, they supposed that it was something of the same kind as the harmony on the strings of the lyre.

'For as when the strings of the lyre have been stretched tight there conies a certain kind of effect upon them, which is called harmony, in the same way also in our body, when a mixture is made of unlike elements, they thought that a mixture of a certain quality produces both life and soul, which is the effect upon the mixture. But many arguments have ere now been urged against this opinion to show that it is impossible.

'For it has been argued that the soul is the prior element, but the harmony subsequent: and that the former rules and presides over the body, and in many ways contends with it, but could not do so if it were a harmony: and that the one is an essence, but the harmony is not an essence: and that the mixture of the bodily elements, of which we consist, if it be in due proportion, would mean health: also that in each part differently compounded there would be a different soul, so that there would be many souls: and, as the chief argument, that prior to this present soul there must be another soul to produce this harmony, as in the case of musical instruments there is the musician, who puts the harmony into the strings, having in himself the reasoning faculty in accordance with which he will modulate it.

'For neither in that case will the strings of themselves, nor in this case the bodily particles be able to bring themselves into harmony. And speaking generally, these philosophers also make animated things out of inanimate, and things casually brought out of disorder into order, and instead of order from the soul they make the soul itself to have received its subsistence from the self-made order. But this cannot possibly take place either in the single parts or in the wholes. The soul, therefore, is not a harmony.'

These extracts are taken from the work of Plotinus against the opinion of the Stoics concerning the soul, who say that it is corporeal. But since I have set forth sufficiently for a summary statement the arguments against Aristotle and the Peripatetics, and those against the sect of the Stoics, it is time to go back again and survey the wonderful physical theories of all their noble philosophers together, seeing especially that all the Greeks in common believed in and worshipped as visible gods the Sun, and Moon, and the rest of the luminaries, and the other elements of the world, and have transferred the fabulous and nonsensical tales about their polytheistic error by more seemly physical explanations to the primary elements and the divisions of the whole world.

Wherefore I think it necessary for me also to collect their opinions on these subjects, and to review their disputes and their vain conceit.

These matters also I will quote from the work of Plutarch, in which he collected the opinions thereon of all the philosophers both ancient and modern, writing in the following manner: 37 


[PLUTARCH] 'ANAXIMANDER: that there is a circle twenty-eight times as large as the Earth, having its circumference like a chariot-wheel, hollow, and full of fire, and partly showing the fire through an opening, as through a bellows-pipe: and this is the Sun.

'Xenophanes: it is formed from the sparks which are seen to be collected from watery vapour, and which compose the Sun out of burning clouds.

'The Stoics: a flame out of the sea, endowed with intelligence.

'Plato: out of an immense fire.

'Anaxagoras, Democritus, Metrodorus: a fiery mass of metal or stone.

'Aristotle: a globe of the fifth corporeal element.

'Philolaus the Pythagorean: a disk as of glass, which receives the reflected radiance of the fire in the cosmos, and transmits the light to us; so that the Sun's fiery appearance in the heaven is like the light which comes to us dispersed by reflexion from the mirror: for this light also we call the Sun, being as it were an image of an image.

'Empedocles: there are two Suns; the one archetypal, a fire in the other hemisphere of the cosmos, which, has filled that hemisphere, being always opposite to its own reflected light; and the other which we see is the reflected light in this other hemisphere which is filled with air mixed with heat, formed by reflexion from the spherical surface of the Earth and failing upon the crystalline Sun, and carried round with the motion of the fiery Sun: but to express it more shortly, the Sun is the reflexion of the fire that surrounds the Earth.

'Epicurus: a compact mass of earth, resembling pumice or sponge in its pores, and kindled by the fire.'


'ANAXIMANDER: the Sun itself is equal to the Earth, but the orbit from which it breathes out its fire, and by which it is carried round, is twenty-seven times as large as the Earth.

'Anaxagoras: many times as large as Peloponnesus.

'Heracleitus: the breadth of a man's foot.

'Epicurus again says that the aforesaid descriptions are all possible: or else that it is of the same size as it appears, or a little greater or less.'


'ANAXIMENES: the Sun is flat like a plate.

'Heracleitus: like a boat, concave.

'The Stoics: spherical, like the universe and the stars.

'Epicurus: the aforesaid descriptions are all possible.'

Such is their Sun, the mighty god of all things visible in heaven. But Moses and the Hebrew oracles waste no labour on any of these matters.


'ANAXIMANDER: it is a circle nineteen times as large as the Earth, full of fire, as in the case of the Sun, and is eclipsed in consequence of the rotation of its disk. And it is like a chariot wheel, having its circumference hollow, and full of fire, with only one vent.

'Xenophanes: a cloud condensed.

'The Stoics: a mixture of fire and air. 'Plato: of earth for the more part.

'Anaxagoras, Democritus: a fiery solid, having in itself plains, and mountains, and ravines.

'Heracleitus: earth surrounded with mist. 'Pythagoras: a mirror-like body.'


'THE Stoics represent it as larger than the Earth, as they also say of the Sun.

'Parmenides: equal to the Sun, for it is illumined from it.'


'THE Stoics: it is spherical, as the Sun. 

'Heracleitus: like a boat. 

'Empedocles: like a disk (or quoit). 

'Others like a cylinder.'


'ANAXIMANDER: it has light of its own, but somewhat scanty.

'Antiphon: the Moon shines by its own light; but the portion of it which is partially hidden is obscured by the Sun's light falling upon it, as it is the nature of the stronger fire to obscure the weaker: which happens also with the other heavenly bodies.

'Thales and his followers: the Moon is illumined from the Sun.

'Heracleitus: the Sun and Moon are affected in the same way: for the heavenly bodies being boat-like in shape, and receiving the products of the watery evaporation, become luminous in appearance; the Sun more brilliantly, because it moves in a purer atmosphere, but the Moon moving in a turbid atmosphere therefore also appears more dim.'


38 'THALES: the heavenly bodies are of earth, but on fire.

'Empedocles: of fire, from the fiery element, which the air contained in itself and thrust out at the first separation of the elements.

'Anaxagoras: the surrounding atmosphere is in its substance fire, but by the energy of its revolution catches up stones from the earth, and having set them on fire has made stars of them.;

'Diogenes: the heavenly bodies are porous like pumice, and are the breathing-holes of the universe. But again the same author thinks that they are stones, which, though at first invisible, often fall upon the Earth and are extinguished, just as the stony meteor which fell in a fiery form at Aegospotamoi.

'Empedocles: the fixed stars are fastened to the crystalline sphere, but the planets are free.

'Plato: for the most part they are of fire, but partake also of the other elements as a cement.

'Xenophanes: they consist of clouds on fire, but are extinguished every day, and re-kindled in the night, just like live coals: for their risings and settings are their kindlings and quenchings.

'Heracleides and the Pythagoreans think that each of the stars is a world, including an Earth, and an atmosphere and an ether in the infinite space. These doctrines are introduced in the Orphic Hymns, for they make each star a world.

'Epicurus rejects none of these opinions, but adheres to his "possible."'


'THE Stoics: the stars are spherical, like the universe, Sun; and Moon.

'Cleanthes: conical.

'Anaximenes: like studs fastened in the crystalline sphere.

'But some say that they are plates of fire, as it were pictures.'

Such are the discoveries of the wonderful philosophers concerning what they call visible gods. But learn also from the same Plutarch's voice, what decisions they have pronounced concerning the universe: 39 


'THE world, therefore, has been fashioned in a rounded form, in the following manner. As the corporeal atoms have an undesigned and fortuitous motion, and move continuously and very swiftly, many of them were collected together, and from this cause had great variety of shapes and sizes.

'And when these were all gathered in the same place, all the larger and heaviest settled down: but as many as were small, and round, and smooth, and easily moved, were thrust out in the collision of the bodies, and carried up on high.

'When, therefore, the propelling force ceased to carry them upward, and the propulsion no longer tended towards the height, while on the other hand they were prevented from sinking downward, they were compressed into the places which were able to admit them; and these were the places around them.

'So the multitude of the bodies were turned round towards these places, and becoming intermingled one with another in the turning they generated the heaven. But the atoms retaining the same natural tendency, and being of various kinds, as I have said, were thrust out towards the upper region, and produced the nature of the stars.

'But the multitude of the bodies which were exhaled kept striking upon the air and thrusting it away; and the air in its motion being turned into wind and encompassing the stars carried them round with it, and maintained the revolution which they now have on high. Afterwards out of the particles which settled down the Earth was produced, and out of those which were carried upward the heaven, and fire, and air.

'And as there was still much matter included in the Earth, which became condensed in consequence of the blows from the winds and the currents from the stars, all of its shape that was formed by minute particles was further compressed, and generated the watery element.

'And this having a fluid tendency was carried down into the hollow places which were able to receive and hold it; or the water settled down of itself and gradually hollowed out the places below it.'

Such is their wonderful cosmogony! And with, this is connected much other disputation, as they started questions about problems of all kinds; whether we ought to regard the universe as one or many; and the cosmos as one or more; and whether it has a soul, and is administered by a divine providence, or the contrary: also whether it is imperishable or perishable; and from what source it is sustained; and from what kind of material God began to make the world: also concerning the order of the world; and what is the cause of its inclination; also concerning what is outside the circumference of the world; and which is the right and which the left side of the world; also concerning the heaven, and, besides all this, concerning daemons and heroes; and about matter, and about ideas: about the arrangement of the universe: yet more, about the course and motion of the stars: and besides this, from what source the stars derive their light: also about the so-called Dioscuri, and the eclipses of the Sun and Moon, and her aspect, and why she has an earthlike appearance; also concerning her distances; and moreover concerning the years.

Now all these questions have been treated in numberless ways by the philosophers of whom we speak, but since Plutarch collected them in a few concise words, by bringing together the opinions of them all and their contradictions, I think it will not be unprofitable to us if they are presented with a view to their rejection on reasonable grounds. For since they stood in diametrical opposition one to another, and stirred up battles and wars against each other, and nothing better, each with jealous strife of words confuting their neighbours' opinions, must not every one admit that our hesitation on these subjects has been reasonable and safe?

Next in order to the aforesaid subjects I will add all their disquisitions upon matters nearer to the Earth; concerning the figure of the Earth, and its position and inclination: also concerning the sea; that so you may know that the noble sages differed not only about things high and lofty, but that they have disagreed also in matters terrestrial. And to increase yet more your admiration of this wisdom of the wise, I will add also all the controversies they waged about the soul and the ruling faculty therein, unable as they were to discover what their own nature was. But now let us go back to the first of the aforesaid subjects.


40 'THE Stoics then represented the world as one, which they also affirmed to be the All, including the corporeal elements.

'But Empedocles said that, though the world was one, yet it was not the All, but only a small part of the All, and the rest useless matter.

'Plato derives his opinion that the world is one, and the All one, by inference from three arguments: from the notion that it will not be perfect, unless it comprehends all things; that it will not be like its pattern, unless it be unique; that it will not be indestructible, if there be anything outside it. But in answer to Plato it must be said, that the world is not perfect, for it does not include all things; for man also is perfect, but does not include all things: and there are many examples, as in the case of statues, and houses, and pictures: and how can it be perfect, if it is possible for anything to revolve outside it? And indestructible it is not, and cannot be, since it is created.

'But Metrodorus says it is as absurd that there should be but one world generated in infinite space, as that there should be but one head of corn in a great plain: and that the world is one of an infinite multitude is manifest from the infinity of causes. For if the world is finite, while the causes from which the world has come are all infinite, the number of worlds must be infinite. For where they all have been causes, there must also be effects: and causes they are, whether the atoms or the elements.'


41 'THE others all say that it has a soul, and is administered by providence.

'But Democritus and Epicurus, and all who are for bringing in the atoms and vacuum, say that it neither has a soul, nor is administered by providence, but by some irrational kind of nature.

'Aristotle says that, as a whole and throughout, it has neither a soul, nor reason, nor intelligence, nor is it administered by providence. For while the heavenly regions partake of all these properties, because they include spheres which are endowed with a soul and life, the terrestrial regions have none of them, but share in the orderly arrangement by accident and not directly.'


'PYTHAGORAS, and Plato, and the Stoics say that the world was created by God; and that, so far as it depends on its nature, it is perishable, because it is perceptible by sense through being corporeal; nevertheless it will not be destroyed, through the providence and support of God.

'Epicurus says that it is perishable, because created, like an animal or a plant.

'Xenophanes: the world is uncreated, and eternal, and imperishable.

'Aristotle: the part of the world beneath the Moon may be affected by change, and the things terrestrial therein are doomed to perish.'


'ARISTOTLE: if the world receives sustenance, it will also perish; but in fact it needs no sustenance, and therefore is also eternal.

'Plato: the world supplies its own sustenance out of its waste, by a change.

'Philolaus: the decay is twofold, sometimes by fire fallen from heaven, and sometimes from the water of the Moon being thrown off by the revolution of its atmosphere: and the exhalations from these are the sustenance of the world.'


'THE physicists say that the creation of the world began from Earth, as from a centre; and the centre is the beginning of a sphere.

'Pythagoras: from fire, and the fifth element.

'Empedocles: the ether was first separated, and next the fire, and after it the Earth, out of which, when very closely compressed by the rush of the sphere, the water gushed up, and the air was formed from it by evaporation. Then the heaven was produced from the ether, and the Sun from the fire: and the terrestrial parts were formed by condensation out of the other elements.

'Plato: the world was made visible according to the pattern of the intelligible world: and of the visible world first the soul, and after this the corporeal element, first the part produced from fire and earth, and secondly that from water and air.

'Pythagoras says that, whereas there are five solid figures which are also called mathematical, out of the cube the earth was produced; out of the pyramid the fire; out of the octahedron the air; out of the eicosahedron the water; and out of the dodecahedron the sphere of the universe.

'And herein again Plato follows Pythagoras.'


'PARMENIDES: there are wreaths twisted round one upon the other, one of the rare matter, and the other of the dense; and between them others of light and darkness mixed; and that which surrounds them all like a wall is solid.

'Leucippus and Democritus extend a tunic and a membrane in a circle round the world.

'Epicurus: the boundary of some worlds is thin, and of others dense: and of these part are in motion, and part immovable.

'Plato: fire first, then ether, after that air, next water, and earth last: but sometimes he combines the ether with the fire.

'Aristotle: first impassible ether, that is a fifth body; after that passibles, fire, air, water, and earth last. Of these the celestial portions have the circular motion assigned to them: and of the portions ranged beneath them the light have the upward, and the heavy the downward motion.

'Empedocles: the places of the elements are not entirely fixed and limited, but they all in a certain way partake one of another.'


'DIOGENES, Anaxagoras: after the world was established, and had brought forth the living beings out of the earth, the world was somehow spontaneously inclined towards its southern side, perhaps from design, in order that some parts of the world might be uninhabitable and some habitable, in consequence of cold, and torrid heat, and a temperate climate.

'Empedocles: when the air yielded to the impulse of the Sun, the polar Bears became inclined, and the northern regions were elevated, and the southern depressed, and the whole world accordingly.'


'THE Pythagoreans: outside the world there is a vacuum, into and out of which the world breathes.

'The Stoics: infinite (vacuum), into which the world is also dissolved by the conflagration.

'Poseidonius: not infinite, but sufficiently large for the dissolution.

'Plato, Aristotle: no vacuum either outside the world or inside.'


'PYTHAGORAS, Plato, Aristotle: the right parts of the world are the eastern, from which the motion begins, and the left are the western.

'Empedocles: the right is the region of the summer solstice, and the left the region of the winter solstice.'


'ANAXIMENES: it is the circumference of the outer zone.

'Empedocles: the heaven is solid, formed from air compressed by fire into a crystallized form, and encompassing the whole elements of fire and air in each of the hemispheres.


42 'IN connexion with the discourse concerning gods we must inquire into that which concerns daemons and heroes.

'Thales, Pythagoras, Plato, the Stoics: daemons are beings of the nature of souls: heroes also are souls which have been separated from their bodies; and the good souls are good daemons, and the bad souls evil daemons.

'But Epicurus admits none of these opinions.'


'Matter is the substratum to generation and decay and the other changes.

'The Schools of Thales and Pythagoras, and the Stoics: matter is wholly and thoroughly subject to change and alteration and flux.

'The School of Democritus: the primary elements are impassible, namely, the atom, the vacuum, and the incorporeal.

'Aristotle and Plato say that matter is corporeal, without form, specific character, shape, or quality, so far as it depends on its own nature, but receptive of the specific forms, as it were a nurse, and a mould, and a matrix. But those who say that matter is water, or fire, or air, or earth, no longer speak of it as without form, but as body: while those who say that it is the indivisible bodies and atoms, do regard it as without form.'


'AN "idea" is an incorporeal entity (ou)si/a), subsisting itself, and by itself, but giving its image to portions of formless matter, and becoming the cause of their manifestation.

'Socrates and Plato suppose the ideas to be separable from the matter, subsisting in the thoughts and in the presentations of god, that is, of the mind.

'Aristotle allowed the specific forms and ideas to remain, not however as separate from the matter, having freed himself from the notion of its being done by god.

'The Stoic followers of Zeno said that the ideas are thoughts of our own.'


'XENOCRATES thinks that the stars move on one superficies.

'The other Stoics that some are before others in height and depth.

43 'Democritus puts the fixed stars first, and next to these the planets, after which the Sun, the Day-star, the Moon.

'Plato next to the position of the fixed stars sets first the planet called Phaenon, that is Saturn: second Phaethon, that is Jupiter; third the Fiery, Mars; fourth the Day-star, Venus; fifth Stilbon, Mercury; sixth the Sun; seventh the Moon.

'Of the Mathematicians some agree with Plato, but some put the Sun in the centre of all.

'Anaximander, and Metrodorus of Chios, and Crates think that the Sun is placed highest of all, next to him the Moon, and beneath them the fixed stars and planets.'


'ANAXAGORAS, Democritus, Cleanthes: all the fixed stars pass from east to west.

'Alcmaeon and the Mathematicians: the planets move in an opposite direction to the fixed stars; for theirs is the contrary course from west to east.

'Anaximander: they are borne along by the circles and spheres on which they are each set.

'Anaximenes: the stars do not revolve beneath the Earth, but around it.

'Plato and the Mathematicians: the Sun, the Day-star, and Stilbon (Venus and Mercury) have equal orbits.'


'METEODORUS: the fixed stars are all illumined by the Sun.

'Heracleitus and the Stoics: the stars are fed from the exhalation of the Earth.

'Aristotle: the heavenly bodies have no need of nourishment; for they are not perishable but eternal.

'Plato: there is a common nourishment of the whole world and of the stars from themselves.'


'XENOPHANES: what appear like stars upon the ships are little clouds which shine in consequence of a certain kind of motion.

'Metrodorus: they are flashes from the eyes which look at them with fear and amazement.'


'THALES was the first who said that the Sun is eclipsed from the Moon (which is of an earthy nature) coming perpendicularly under it; and that by reflexion in a mirror she is seen situated beneath the Sun's disk.

'Anaximander: from the closing of the orifice of the breathing-hole of the Sun's fire.

'Heracleitus: in consequence of the turning of the boat-like figure, so that the concavity is above, and the convexity below facing our eyes.

'Xenophanes: by extinction, and then again there rises another Sun in the east. But he has incidentally mentioned an eclipse of the Sun lasting over the whole month, and again a total eclipse, so that the day seemed like night.

'Some say that it is a condensation of the invisible clouds coming over the Sun's disk.

'Aristarchus sets the Sun among the fixed stars, and makes the Moon move round the Sun's orbit, and the Sun's disk to be overshadowed in consequence of these inclinations.

'Xenophanes: there are many suns and moons, corresponding to the climes, and sections, and zones of the Earth: and at a certain season the Sun's disk falls into some section of the Earth which is not inhabited by us, and thus, as if stepping into a hole, suffers eclipse. But the same author says that the Sun goes forward into infinity, but seems to revolve because of its distance.'


'ANAXIMANDER: from the closing of the orifice of its circumference.

'Berossus: because of the turning of the dark side towards us.

'Heracleitus: because of the turning of the boat-like figure.

'Of the Pythagoreans some say that it is an outshining and obstruction by our Earth or the counter-earth: but the more recent say that it is in consequence of the spreading of a flame which is gradually kindled in an orderly manner, until it produces the complete full moon, and decreases again in like manner until the conjunction, at which it is entirely extinguished.

'Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, and the Mathematicians agree that it effects its monthly obscurations by travelling round with the Sun and sharing its illumination; but the eclipses by falling into the shadow of the Earth when that comes between the two luminaries, or rather when it obstructs the light from the Moon.'


'THE Pythagoreans say that the Moon has an earthlike appearance, because it is inhabited like our Earth, but by larger animals and more beautiful plants. For the animals upon it are fifteen times as large, and emit no bodily secretion; and that the day is longer in the same proportion.

'Anaxagoras: on account of an unevenness in the mixture, because of its being both cold and earthy: for the misty part is mingled with the fiery, whence the Moon is also said to shine with false light.

'The Stoics: because of the admixture of air in its substance its composition is not pure.'


'EMPEDOCLES: the Moon is distant from the Sun twice as far as from the Earth.

'The Mathematical School: eighteen times as far.

'Eratosthenes: the Sun's distance from the Earth is four millions and eighty thousand stades: but the Moon's distance from the Earth seven hundred and eighty thousand stades.'


'A YEAR of Saturn is a period of thirty years: of Jupiter twelve; of Mars two; of the Sun twelve months; and the same for Mercury and Venus, for they run an equal course. But the Moon's is thirty days: for this is the complete month from first appearance to conjunction.

'The Great Year some suppose to consist in a period of eight years, but others in nineteen years, and others in fifty-nine. Heracleitus makes it consist of eighteen thousand solar years: Diogenes of three hundred and sixty-five years, as many as the year has days according to Heracleitus: but others of seven thousand, seven hundred, and seventy-seven years.'

So widely do the aforesaid persons differ from each other in regard to things in the heavens above. But now look also at their opinions about the Earth.


'THALES and his followers say that the Earth is one.

'Hicetas the Pythagorean says that there are two, this and the antipodal earth.

'The Stoics: the Earth is one, and finite.

'Xenophanes: from the lower part its roots reach into infinity, and it is composed of air and fire.

'Metrodorus: the Earth is the deposit and sediment of the water, and the Sun of the air.'


'THALES and the Stoics: the Earth is spherical. 

'Anaximander: it is like a stone pillar supporting the surfaces.

'Anaximenes: like a table. 

'Leucippus: like a kettle-drum.

'Democritus: like a disk in its extension, but hollow in the middle.'


'THE followers of Thales say the Earth is the centre.

'Xenophanes: the Earth first, for its roots reach into infinity.

'Philolaus the Pythagorean: first, fire in the centre; for this is the hearth of the universe: second, the antipodal Earth, and third, the Earth which we inhabit, opposite to the antipodal both in situation and revolution; in consequence of which the inhabitants of the antipodal Earth are not seen by those in this Earth.

'Parmenides was the first to mark off the inhabited parts of the Earth under the two tropical zones.'


44  'ALL the others say that the Earth is at rest.

'But Philolaus the Pythagorean says that it revolves round the fire in an oblique circle, in like manner as the Sun and Moon.

'Heracleides of Pontus, and Ecphantus the Pythagorean make the Earth move, not however by change of place, but by rotation, turning like a wheel on an axle, from west to east, about its own centre.

'Democritus: at first the Earth used to change its place, owing to its smallness and lightness; but as in the course of time it grew dense and heavy, it became stationary.'

After the utterance of these different opinions by the noble philosophers concerning the Earth, hear now what they say of the Sea.


45 'ANAXIMANDER says that the Sea is the remnant of the original moisture, the greater part of which was dried up by the fire, and the remainder changed through its burning heat.

'Anaxagoras: when the water, which in the beginning was a stagnant lake, was burnt up by the Sun's revolution, and the greasy part evaporated, the remainder subsided into saltness and bitterness.

'Empedocles: the Sea is the sweat of the Earth when scorched by the Sun, because of the increased condensation.

'Antiphon: the sweat of the hot part, from which the included moisture was separated, turned salt by being boiled down, which happens always in the case of sweat.

'Metrodorus: from being drained through the earth it has partaken of its density, just as liquids which are strained through ashes.

'Plato and his followers: of the elementary water the part formed out of air, being condensed by cooling, became sweet; but the part formed from earth, being evaporated by heat and burning, became salt.'

So much, then, concerning the Sea. But as to those who professed to give physiological explanations about the whole world, and things celestial and ethereal, and the conception of the universe, how little they knew even of their own nature, you may learn from their discordant utterances on these points also, as follows.


46 'PYTHAGORAS, Plato: in the first analysis the Soul has two parts; for it has one part rational and another irrational. But in close and exact consideration, its parts are three: for they distinguish the irrational into the irascible and the appetitive.

'The Stoics: it is composed of eight parts; five senses, sight, smell, hearing, taste, touch; and a sixth, speech; a seventh, generation; and an eighth, the actual ruling principle, from which proceeds the extension of all these through their proper organs, in a similar manner to the tentacles of the polypus.

'Democritus, Epicurus: the Soul consists of two parts, its rational faculty being settled in the breast, and the irrational diffused over the whole complexity of the body.

'But Democritus thought that all things, even dead bodies, naturally partake of a certain kind of soul, because in an obscure way they have some warmth and sensation, though the greater part is dissipated.'


'PLATO, Democritus: it is in the head as a whole.

'Straton: between the eyebrows.

'Erasistratus: about the membrane of the brain, which he calls the epicranis.

'Herophilus: in the cavity of the brain, which is also its base.

'Parmenides: in the breast as a whole.

'Epicurus, and all the Stoics: in the heart as a whole.

'Diogenes: in the arterial cavity of the heart, which is full of breath.

'Empedocles in the composition of the blood.

'Others in the membrane of the pericardium: and others in the diaphragm. Some of the more recent philosophers say that it reaches through from the head to the diaphragm.

'Pythagoras: the vital power is around the heart; but the rational , and intelligent faculty in the region of the head.'

So far, then, as to their opinions on these matters. Do you not think therefore that with judgement and reason we have justly kept aloof from the unprofitable and erroneous and vain labour of them all, and do not busy ourselves at all about the said subjects (for we do not see the utility of them, nor any tendency to benefit and gain good for mankind), but cling solely to piety towards God the creator of all things, and by a life of temperance, and all godly behaviour according to virtue, strive to live in a manner pleasing to Him who is God over all?

But if even you from malice and envy hesitate to admit our true testimony, you shall be again anticipated by Socrates, the wisest of all Greeks, who has truthfully declared his votes in our favour. Those meteorological babblers, for instance, he used to expose in their folly, and say that they were no better than madmen, expressly convicting them not merely of striving after things unattainable, but also of wasting time about things useless and unprofitable to man's life. And this shall be testified to you by our former witness Xenophon, one of the best-known of the companions of Socrates, who writes as follows in his Memorabilia: 47


[XENOPHON] 'No one ever yet saw Socrates do or heard him say anything impious or unholy. For he did not discourse about the nature of the universe or the other subjects, like most of them, speculating upon the condition of the cosmos, as the Sophists call it, and by what forces of necessity the celestial phenomena severally are produced: rather he used to expose the foolishness of those who troubled themselves about such things.

'And the first point he used to consider in regard to them was, whether they go on to study such matters, because they think that they have already an adequate knowledge of human affairs, or deem that they are doing their proper work in neglecting human interests and speculating on the divine.

'And he used to wonder that they did not clearly see that it is impossible for men to discover these things, since even those who pride themselves most highly on the discussion of these matters do not agree in opinion with each other, but are just like madmen in their mutual feelings.

'For as among madmen some have no fear even of things fearful, while others are afraid where no fear is; so some of these think it. no shame to say or do anything and everything even in a crowd, while others think it not right even to go out among men: and some honour neither temple, nor altar, nor anything else belonging to the gods, while others worship any casual stocks and stones and wild beasts. Also of those who study anxiously the nature of the universe some think that "being" is only one, others that it is infinite in multitude: some too think that all things are in perpetual motion, and others that nothing can ever be moved: and some that all things are being generated and perishing, but others that nothing could ever be generated or perish.

'He also used to ask the following questions about them: whereas those who study human affairs think that whatever they have learned they will be able to practise both for themselves and for whomsoever they may wish, do those who search after things divine think in like manner that when they know by what forces of necessity phenomena are severally produced, they will be able whenever they please to make winds and rains and seasons, and whatever else of this kind they may need? Or, without even hoping for anything of this sort, are they satisfied merely to know how such phenomena are severally produced?

'Such, then, was the nature of his remarks about those who busied themselves with these matters: but he himself was always discoursing of human interests, inquiring what was, pious, what impious; what noble, what base; what just, what unjust; what sanity, what madness.'

These, then, were the opinions of Socrates. And next after him Aristippus of Cyrene, and then later Ariston of Chios, undertook to maintain that morals were the only proper subject of philosophy; for these inquiries were practicable and useful, but the discussions about nature were quite the contrary, neither being comprehensible, nor having any use, even if they were clearly understood.

For it would be no advantage to us, not even if soaring higher in the air than Perseus,

'O'er ocean's wave, and o'er the Pleiades,'

we could with our very eyes survey the whole world, and the nature of all 'beings,' of whatever kind that is.

For we certainly shall not be on that account wiser, or more just or brave or temperate, nay, not even strong, or beautiful, or rich, without which advantages happiness is impossible.

Wherefore Socrates was right in saying that of existing things some are above us, and others nothing to us: for the secrets of nature are above us, and the conditions after death nothing to us, but the affairs of human life alone concern us.

And thus, he said, he also dismissed the physical theories of Anaxagoras and Archelaus, and studied only

'Whate'er of good or ill our homes have known.' 48

And he thought besides that their physical discussions were not merely difficult and even impossible, but also impious and opposed to the laws. For some maintained that gods do not exist at all, and others, that the Infinite, or Being, or the One, are gods, and anything rather than those who are generally acknowledged.

Their dissension again, he said, was very great: for some represented the All as infinite, and others as finite; and some maintained that all things are in motion, and others that nothing at all moves.

Moreover the following words of Timon of Phlius in his Silli seem to me the best of all on these very subjects:

'Say then, who urged them to the fatal strife? 
Echo's attendant rout: who filled with wrath 
Against the silent, sent upon mankind 
A fell disease of talk, and many died.'  49

Do you see how at last these noble sages scoff at each other? For instance, the same author, besides what I have quoted, describes their mutual jealousy and their battles and quarrels in the following style:

'There baneful Discord stalks with senseless shriek, 
Of murderous Strife the sister and ally,
Who, blindly stumbling round, anon her head, 
With ponderous weight set firm, uplifts to hope.'  50

Since, however, we have now exhibited the dissension and fighting of these sages among themselves, and since the wholly superfluous, and unintelligible, and to us utterly unnecessary study and learning of all the other subjects in which the tribes of philosophers still take pride, have been refuted not by our demonstrations but by their own; nay more, since we have also plainly set forth the reason why we have rejected their doctrines and preferred the Hebrew oracles, let us at this point conclude our treatise on The Preparation for the Gospel; but the more complete treatise on The Demonstration of the Gospel it now remains for us to consider from a different basis of argument, which the question still needs for those who are to deal with its teaching.

It remains, therefore, to make answer to those of the circumcision who find fault with us, as to why we, being foreigners and aliens, make use of their books, which, as they would say, do not belong to us at all; or why, if we gladly accept their oracles, we do not also render our life conformable to their law.

[Footnotes moved to end and numbered]

1.  791 b 1 Aristocles, a Fragment preserved by Eusebius.

2.  793 a 6 Theocritus of Chios, Bergk, Poet. Lyr. p. 676

3.  794 c 1 Atticus, a Fragment preserved by Eusebius.

4.  795 a 1 Hom. Il. ii. 872

5.  795 a 7 Archilochus, Fr. vi

6.  795 d 2 Plato, Phaedrus, 349 D

7.  796 a 3 Hom. Il. i. 526 (Lord Derby)

8.  796 c 1 Cf. Aristotle, Nicom. Ethics, VII. xiii. 3

9.  796 c 7 Hom. Il. vi. 147-9

10.  797 a 1 Cf. Hom. Il. xii. 326

11.  797 b 3 Cf. Plato, Republic, ii. 361; x. 613 A

12.  798 a 7 Hom. Il. xxii. 262

13.  c 9 Atticus, Fr. iii

14.  d 3 Pindar, Fr. Incert. 129 (Boeckh)

15.  d 6 Plato, Laws, iv. 715 E

16.  d 8 ibid. Timaeus, 29 E

17.  801 d 3 Plato, Timaeus, 30 A

18.  d 10 ibid. 41 B

19.  803 b 7 Plato, Timaeus, 29 F

20.  806 a 1 Hom. Il. ii. 478

21.  c 1 Atticus, Fr. vi

22.  c 2 Cf. Plato, Timaeus, 40 A

23.  c 5 ibid. 39 B

24.  808 a 1 Homer, Il. xii. 239

25.  809 b 3 Plato, Phaedrus, 346 B

26.  809 b 5 Plato, Phaedo, 72 E

27.  811 b 1 Plotinus, Ennead. iv. lib. 2: a Fragment preserved by Eusebius

28.  812 d 4 Porphyry against Boëthus On the Saul, a Fragment preserved by Eusebius

29.  813 d 2 Cf. Plato, Laws, x. pp. 885, 900, 907

30.  815 b 1 Cf. Plato, Phaedrus, 248 B

31.  816 d 1 Aristocles, a Fragment preserved by Eusebius: cf. Diels, Doxographi Graeci, p. 464, n. 9 .

32.  818 c 1 Porphyry, On the Soul, in answer to Boëthus

33.  819 a 1 Numenius, a Fragment preserved by Eusebius

34.  822 d 1 Longinus, Fr. vii

35.  823 b 6 Hom. Il. xviii. 376

36.  824 a 1 Plotinus, Ennead. iv. 7, p. 456 (Volkmann)

37.  830 a 6 Plutarch, On the Opinions of Philosophers, 889 F

38.  838 d 4 Plutarch, 888 D

39.  830 d 6 Plutarch, 878 C

40.  841 d 2 Plutarch, 879 A

41.  842 b 7 ibid 886 D

42.  845 c 2 Plutarch, 882 B

43.  846 c 2 Plutarch, 889 A

44.  850 c 4 Plutarch, De Placitis Philosophorum, 896 A

45.  861 a 1 ibid. 896 F

46.  d 3 Plutarch, ibid. 898 E .

47.  853 c 1 Xenophon, Memorabilia of Socrates, I. i. 11

48.  855 a 3 Homer, Od. iv. 392

49.  b 6 Timon, Fr. 9 (Mullach I. p. 84); cf. Clem. Alex., Strom. V. 325 Sylb., Homer, Il. i. 8-10

50.  c 5 Timon, Fr. 5; cf. Homer, Il. iv. 440-3

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